COLLEGE PARK, Md. >> Maryland freshman forward Jalen Smith is starting to make his name on the college level as he did in high school at Baltimore’s Mount Saint Joseph.
For one night at least, he wasn’t the only Jalen who garnered a lot of attention at Xfinity Center.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, whose intention to leave the Crimson Tide after two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was solidified when he put his name into the NCAA transfer portal earlier this week, attended Friday’s game against Indiana with new Terps football coach Michael Locksley.
Locksley, who was hired to replace DJ Durkin last month, served as Alabama’s offensive coordinator for the 2018 season after being promoted from a quality control assistant to co-offensive coordinator in 2017.
Hurts, who led the Crimson Tide to the national championship game as a freshman and sophomore before losing his job to Tua Tagovailoa, will be immediately eligible to play as a graduate transfer.
Tagovailoa, a Saint Louis graduate, led the Crimson Tide to an overtime win over Georgia in the championship at the end of the 2017 season and retained his job throughout this season. Hurts replaced an injured Tagovailoa in the second half of this year’s Southeastern Conference championship game and led Alabama to a comeback win over the Bulldogs.
Hurts will be the prized catch in a deep pool of graduate quarterbacks, and thus the Terps have plenty of competition. Several high-profile programs, including Oklahoma and Miami, are expected to make a run at Hurts.
That Maryland was the first of several official visits is a sign of his interest and his relationship with Locksley, who will undoubtedly try to sell the 6-foot-2 junior on being the missing piece to an offense with talent at both running back and wide receiver.
Locksley and Hurts made their way to seats behind the press section without much attention. A few people who had read tweets earlier in the day that Hurts would be on campus asked, “Is that him?” Otherwise, his presence drew little notice.
But that changed when Locksley was pictured on the scoreboard in the last two minutes of the first half and drew a loud ovation from the crowd. There were audible chants of “We want Jalen! We want Jalen!” and continued when the two walked out together at halftime.
Considering the forgettable first half that Maryland’s Smith had offensively — going 0 for 7, including missing a breakaway dunk on a perfect feed from freshman guard Eric Ayala — it was easy to tell which Jalen fans were showering with love.