"He's gotta win the job first," Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said when asked what sets Hurts apart. "If he wins the job, then we'll talk about that."
Riley faced a series of questions about Hurts, who joined Oklahoma as a graduate transfer in January after three seasons with Alabama, where he went 26-2 as the Tide's starting quarterback. Hurts follows two quarterback transfers, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who won consecutive Heisman trophies with the Sooners before both went No. 1 overall in the NFL draft.
Although Hurts performed well in Oklahoma's spring game and brings unique experience to a record-setting offense, Riley hasn't ruled out redshirt freshman Tanner Mordecai or true freshman Spencer Rattler, ESPN's top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class. Oklahoma resumes practices next month.
"One of them's got to go win it," Riley told ESPN. "We've got an interesting dynamic in there with Jalen as an older, more experienced guy that's been through a lot of battles, and we've got some very young, talented players in there with a chance to make a name for themselves. It's really, truly, 'May the best man win.'"
Riley said there's a different feel to Hurts' arrival, given his experience at Alabama, where he started throughout the 2016 and 2017 season before being benched for Tua Tagovailoa in the national championship game against Georgia. Tagovailoa started for Alabama in 2018. Although Hurts arrives with more game experience than Mayfield or Murray, he won't spend a year learning Riley's offense like his predecessors did. Riley has focused on communication and terminology with Hurts but noted he hasn't had to spend as much time on it with a veteran player.
"It's not like you're starting from scratch," Riley said. "It's been a fun process. He's smart, he's eager."
Oklahoma loses Murray, four starting linemen and leading receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown from the record-setting 2018 offense, which led the nation in both scoring (48.4 points per game) and yards (570.3 yards per game). The Sooners return standout receiver CeeDee Lamb, tight end Grant Calcaterra and running backs Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks, the latter of whom returned to team activities late last week following a Title IX investigation by the university, Riley said.
"We don't plan on the offense dipping," Riley said.