TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Jalen Hurts is calling home a couple of times a day. He’s not watching much television, though, because it’s tough to fathom what’s happening and even tougher to see the destruction of his hometown.
On Monday, when the University of Alabama quarterback should be enjoying practice and getting ready to face Florida State in what might be the biggest season opener in college football history, his mind was naturally elsewhere at times. Hurts was trying to focus on preparing, and the task at hand, but he’s naturally worried about his family and everyone else in Houston.
“A lot of stuff going down there, but I’m praying for them and keeping them in my prayers,” Hurts said. “I’ll definitely be playing for them Saturday.”
Over this past weekend, when college football fans were thankful that the 2017 schedule has finally started with special kickoff games and every other team making the transition to game week, the real world dealt a huge dose of perspective with Hurricane Harvey decimating the coastal part of the Lone Star State.
As of Monday afternoon, Houston has seen more than 25 inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey, with another 25 expected by the end of the week. The area usually sees 50 inches over the whole year. Just like with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, or last year’s flooding in Louisiana, the word disaster doesn’t seem to cover it. What’s happening goes way beyond that.
“As of right now, all of our coaches have been in touch with their families and the players,” coach Nick Saban said. “If anybody is having any issues and we can be of any assistance to them, we’ve certainly let them know that we’re here to try and help in any way that we can. We want our players to feel comfortable that their families are not in any danger or in harm’s way. To this point, we don’t have any significant issues that we have to report.”
You may remember, Saban once worked in Houston, spending two years with the Oilers before the franchise moved and eventually became the Tennessee Titans. Numerous assistant coaches and staff members have ties there as well, in addition to the number of players who were recruited out of Texas.
In addition to Hurts and some walk-ons, they include:
- Cornerback Tony Brown, Beaumont
- Wide receiver Tyrell Shavers, Lewisville
- Safety Deionte Thompson, Orange
- Wide receiver Xavian Marks, Rosenberg
- Cornerback Jared Mayden, Sachse
- Tight end Kedrick James, Waco
- Long snapper Thomas Fletcher, Georgetown
- Offensive lineman Chris Owens, Arlington
- Tight end Major Tennison, Flint
“When I heard it was hitting the Houston area I hit up Tony Brown, his family is from the Houston area,” junior defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “I asked him to make sure his family’s OK, his house is OK. He said they’re looking to evacuate, but everything’s all right. For now everything’s OK.”
Fitzpatrick’s family lost its home in Old Bridge, N.J. when Hurricane Irene hit six years ago today. It wasn’t the initial storm that caused them to flee and destroyed the house, but the flooding after.
The pain still shows on his face.
“I know how it is,” he continued. “I know how fast it can happen.
“You just have to make sure they’re all right and if something does happen you have to keep them up, hold them up, make sure that they’re doing all right and keep praying for them.”
Alabama’s players from Louisiana would probably say something similar, especially since last year’s flooding is still fresh in their memories and their families are now on high alert as well.
On top of it, defensive lineman Raekwon Davis was struck by a stray bullet on Saturday night. He’s expected to be OK, and might even play against Florida State. But one has the feeling that Saban is going to have him do some ride-along with the local police.
Perspective. The program that came up short in last year’s national championship suddenly has a lot of it, especially Hurts.
“I’ve seen a picture where water is up to a stoplight, like 20 feet in the air,” Hurts said. “The freeways are dead. A lot of rescue boats (are) out, people on boats. Not good to drive anywhere.”
Hurts’ house hasn’t been damaged, and the street he lives on has largely been spared so far — but everything around them is not.
He also knows that the storm isn’t over yet, and his parents hope to stay put. Their making it to Atlanta to see No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 Florida State at new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday night would be nice. But Hurts is totally fine if they don’t make the trip.
“I’d rather them be safe than come to my game,” he said.
The post Alabama’s Jalen Hurts praying and playing for family and hurricane-ravaged hometown of Houston appeared first on SEC Country.
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