While doing so doesn’t guarantee that he’ll transfer, sources say he’s as good as gone. Which means it will be open season on the talented quarterback with a 26-2 record and an SEC Offensive Player of the Year award under his belt.
As a graduate, he’ll be able to play immediately with one year of eligibility remaining.
He backed up Tua Tagovailoa for a season. Now it’s time for him to find another starting job.
Where he goes next comes down to fit. Taking into account things like style of offense, location and ability to play immediately, we came up with some possible destinations — in alphabetical order — for the coveted soon-to-be free agent.
Florida State Seminoles
Why it makes sense for Florida State: Though starting quarterback Deondre Francois announced he is coming back to Florida State, the Seminoles could definitely use another quarterback to not only add depth but much-needed competition. Francois had an up-and-down season in 2018, though Florida State had issues along the offensive line and just about every other position. James Blackman, who started in place of an injured Francois for the majority of 2017, returns after redshirting, and that is essentially it for the Florida State quarterbacks. Adding Hurts would give Willie Taggart a dual-threat quarterback who better fits what he likes to do on offense. In his best season as a head coach, Quinton Flowers had a record-setting season at USF as both a rusher and a passer. — Andrea Adelson
Why it makes sense for Hurts: Before Francois announced that he’d return for another season, the path to starting was more simple. Now? Well, it’s a little more complicated. And even though there’s a belief that the Noles have more talent than their win-loss record indicated last season, that might not be enough to merit Hurts’ consideration when coupled with a crowded quarterback room. Taggart is a strong recruiter who could do some interesting things with Hurts at quarterback, but it would take a strong pitch at this point to get the transfer on board. — Alex Scarborough
Why it makes sense for Maryland: It’s hard to imagine that at some point in the last few weeks, while he finished up his duties as Alabama offensive coordinator, that Maryland coach Mike Locksley didn’t think about Hurts moving east with him. Hurts would fit in seamlessly to the offense, have an opportunity to start right away and make everyone around him better. If Locksley was looking to start his tenure in College Park with a bang, then getting Hurts on board would certainly be the solution. — Scarborough
Why it makes sense for Hurts: Two words: Mike Locksley. That connection to the former Alabama offensive coordinator, more than anything else, gives the Terps a shot. If Hurts feels he developed well under Locksley this past season — and all indications are he does — then he might find it beneficial to spend more time under his tutelage. But in terms of having a consistently winning program and surrounding himself with talent on offense, Maryland is obviously not on par with other possible destinations. — Scarborough
Why it makes sense for Miami: Quarterback is a glaring weakness for the Hurricanes, and it has been for many years now. New coach Manny Diaz has said he will make it a priority to upgrade the position, and there are those inside the program who believe they are a quarterback away from stabilizing the program and getting it moving in the right direction. Starter Malik Rosier is gone, leaving N’Kosi Perry, Jarren Williams and Cade Weldon as the main contenders. Perry struggled this season, Weldon was suspended four games and Williams has never taken a snap in a collegiate game. Adding Hurts, a veteran and proven winner, would be a major upgrade in terms of talent and competition. — Adelson
Why it makes sense for Hurts: Would you like to spend one last year of college in South Florida? A better question: Who wouldn’t? But it’s not just the location that’s appealing. It’s the opportunity to start with Rosier gone and it’s the opportunity to be a part of whatever Diaz is building. From the outside, it appears that all the Canes have been missing is a quarterback, and Hurts could be the one to turn them into an ACC contender again. — Scarborough
Why it makes sense for Oklahoma: Assuming that Heisman winner Kyler Murray moves on with his MLB — or NFL — career, Oklahoma will have an enormous void at quarterback, a position held over the last two years by back-to-back Heisman winners. The Sooners do have a fourth-year junior in Austin Kendall, who has been waiting for his turn to run Lincoln Riley’s offense. But Hurts transferring to Oklahoma would work well with the timing of incoming freshman Spencer Rattler, who is the No. 1 QB recruit in the country. Because Rattler isn’t arriving until the summer, he likely wouldn’t be ready to start the 2019 season anyway. Hurts could bridge the gap between Murray and Rattler while keeping the Sooners in the playoff conversation. — Jake Trotter
Why it makes sense for Hurts: This might be the home-run destination. It checks every box. It’s a playoff-caliber program. It’s the opportunity to start right away. And it’s the strong whiff of the NFL blowing through Norman. Mayfield’s success in the pros, coupled with Murray’s possible standing as a first-round pick and Riley’s obvious appeal to NFL owners and general managers, would put Hurts right where he wants to be. If his goal is to have an opportunity to play in the pros — and it is — then the Sooners will merit strong consideration. — Scarborough
Why it makes sense for Tennessee: While Jarrett Guarantano had his moments down the stretch last season, it’s not as if the Vols couldn’t use an upgrade at the quarterback position. That offense, which ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the SEC in scoring this past season, needs help. And coach Jeremy Pruitt, who is well acquainted with Hurts from his days as Alabama’s defensive coordinator, knows he could use a playmaker of Hurts’ caliber. What’s more, Pruitt wants someone who can also take care of the ball, manage the game and aid in the running attack, and that fits Hurts to a tee. — Scarborough
Why it makes sense for Hurts: The familiarity with Pruitt certainly helps Tennessee’s chances, but the unanswered question is how the hiring of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney impacts the thought process. Chaney, you’ll recall, didn’t seem to know what to do with a similarly dual-threat quarterback in Justin Fields last season at Georgia. On top of that, the Vols don’t appear to be ready to compete for an SEC East title. And after losing just three games in his Alabama career, it’s hard to imagine Hurts coping well with a program that’s not in contention — Scarborough
TCU Horned Frogs
Why it makes sense for TCU: It wasn’t long ago that TCU appeared to be overflowing in QB riches. But blue-chip commitment Justin Rogers tore up his leg during his senior year of high school, then 2018 Week 1 starter Shawn Robinson transferred in midseason. Rogers is still working his way back from drop-foot condition after redshirting last year, leaving the Horned Frogs otherwise with incoming freshman Max Duggan and former Ivy League transfer Mike Collins, who himself is coming back from injury, as the only other options. The Horned Frogs are good enough elsewhere to contend in the Big 12. With Hurts at quarterback, they could be serious challengers to Oklahoma and Texas in the conference title race. — Trotter
Why it makes sense for Hurts: Having grown up in Houston, this would make a lot of sense. He could get closer to home and enter a program he has a lot of familiarity with. It’s safe to say TCU coach Gary Patterson and Hurts’ father, a high school coach in the state, are acquainted from the recruiting trail. But it’s the opportunity to start with Robinson gone, coupled with the style of offense the Horned Frogs run, that really gives TCU a shot. They’ve had success with dual-threat quarterbacks before, and they aren’t afraid to throw the ball downfield, which is something Hurts must show to NFL scouts. The only question is how Hurts would view the roster strength and the opportunity to be in contention in the Big 12. — Scarborough
Why it makes sense for UCLA: A year after the Bruins went to the grad transfer market with Wilton Speight, could they do it again? Hurts would qualify as a significant improvement over Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who played in 10 games and started seven as a true freshman, but coach Chip Kelly also has to weigh what is in the best interest of the program long-term. Sticking with Thompson-Robinson is more likely to help the Bruins in 2020 and 2021, so can Hurts provide enough improvement in 2019 to justify keeping the soon-to-be sophomore on the sideline? — Kyle Bonagura
Why it makes sense for Hurts: This would take a step out of Hurts’ comfort zone, moving across the country to the West Coast. But the appeal of Chip Kelly might be enough to make the long trip. Kelly has a well-earned reputation as an offensive innovator who knows how to get the best out of his quarterbacks. Add in his NFL history and tutelage of dual-threat Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, and Kelly could intrigue Hurts. The only concern is just how bad the Bruins were last year. Would Hurts really want to deal with the growing pains of a 3-9 squad when he’s lost only three games in his entire career up until now? — Scarborough