Former University of Oklahoma quarterback and 2019 Heisman Trophy finalist Jalen Hurts has always been lauded for his maturity and ability to handle inopportune circumstances. From being benched in the National Championship game a few seasons ago while still playing at Alabama and handling the situation with prestige class, to resurrecting and improving his future NFL draft prospects in his one lone season at Oklahoma, Jalen Hurts the human being has always been applauded.
Jalen Hurts took to Mobile, Alabama this past week to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in hopes of elevating his draft stock even more, and by most accounts did just that. However, no one knew that behind his stellar on-play performance, Hurts was grieving.
Jalen Hurts’ Grandfather Otis Dewalt Recently Passed Away
Jalen Hurts’ grandfather, Otis Dewalt, passed away on January 13th at age of 82, first reported by NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. Per Pelissero, Dewalt’s funeral was held on Wednesday, just the second day of Senior Bowl practices. While no one would have questioned Hurts for leaving Mobile, the former OU quarterback opted to stick around and play out the rest of the week.
Pelissero had the chance to connect with Hurts’ mother Pamela on a phone call this past Friday to discuss the reasoning behind Jalen’s decision to stick out Senior Bowl week and compete.
“He’s a team player,” Hurts’ mother told Pelissero. “Even though that was family, he’s worked all his life to get here and this is a critical time. He’s very, very family-oriented.”
Pamela also mentions that her father Otis’ health had been on the decline for a while now, stating that he was battling dementia amongst other health-related issues in recent years.
Pamela stated that while Jalen was unable to see his grandfather much while away at college, he would take the time to connect with Dewalt through FaceTime, although she is not sure how much her father remembered these interactions. Though she is certain that her father was very proud of his grandson.
Pelissero also reached out to Hurts’ agent, Nicole Lynn, for further word on the closely-knit bond the two relatives shared, and what ultimately led to Hurts’ heartwrenching decision to play in the Senior Bowl.
“Jalen had an incredibly difficult decision to make after finding out his grandpa’s funeral would be during the Wednesday practice of the Senior Bowl,” Lynn told Palissero. “With a heavy heart, Jalen ultimately felt his grandpa would want him to keep his commitment and play in the game — so Jalen decided to play. I would be lying if I said this week has not been extremely difficult for Jalen considering the circumstance, but I admire his strength through it all.”
Jalen Hurts Auctions Off Helmet to Help Sick Children
Jalen Hurts’ brilliance on the football field has always been quite easy to see. His teammates picked up on this quite quickly at Mobile this week, as they voted him the South Team’s Offensive Practice Player of the Week amongst the players at his position.
However, the most monumental thing Hurts did on the practice field this past week has very little to do with football. Hurts donned a helmet with both Oklahoma and Alabama decals at Senior Bowl practice commemorating the two schools he played at during his college career. Hurts auctioned off his helmet at the end of the practice week, and in the process raised $5,500 towards an organization and women’s and children’s hospital that provides gravely sick children with VIP sports experiences.