Lincoln Riley still isn’t ready to call Jalen Hurts the next Oklahoma starting quarterback.
But the head coach is still buried in questions about the Alabama transfer quarterback at Big 12 media days in Arlington, Texas.
Hurts hasn’t been in the system very long, something that benefited back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield.
Hurts may not have immediate experience with the Sooners, but has something else.
“He certainly brings a lot of great game experience that Kyler and Baker did not have when they got here,” Riley said. “But also doesn’t have as much experience in the system. But it’s been fun. He’s been eager. There’ve been things we do that he’s been able to trace back to the roots of what he’s done at Alabama, or even high school.
“It’s not like you’re starting from scratch. He’s a smart kid, he’s been eager, he’s worked hard at it and we’ve meshed together well.”
A few other highlights from Riley’s press conference and short breakout session:
• He referred to OU’s statement last week on running back Kennedy Brooks, who was recently reinstated after being cleared of allegations of violence against a female student in a Title IX hearing.
“Kennedy was reinstated back to the team late last week. He's back full-go with our guys,” Riley said. “During the process I was not involved at all. Not updated at all. That's a process that our school takes very seriously and we leave that to the people that their job is to handle that and when they do we take it from there.”
• He wagged his finger at the notion OU’s offense will “dip” in 2019-20 with the loss of four offensive linemen and Murray.
“We don't plan on the offense dipping. We definitely expect our defense to be better. I don't think there is any doubt,” Riley said. “That's why we have recruited as hard as we have. That's why we made the changes on the coaching staff that we've made.
“As we feel like there is going to be positive results behind that. What we have been able to see behind the scenes up to this point get you encouraged and excited that both those things will happen. The expectations are very high on both sides of the ball and we feel like we've got the right people in place to meet those expectations.”
• Riley said he always planned on letting Austin Kendall transfer to West Virginia.
“That was no issue,” he said. “That's part of these new rules is we can't restrict them from going anywhere. My contention was I had a concern about a player being able to transfer and be immediately eligible the very next year in our league. I don't think that's healthy for the league. In the end, I think my personal relationship with Austin and his family, the fact that he took a chance and came out to Oklahoma when I first got there, the fact that I was kind of with him every step of the way, I think the personal side of it overtook maybe more the business side of it from my head and my views on it haven't changed. I still don't really agree with it but I realize in that moment I wanted to do the best thing for the kid and I couldn't get past the personal side of it.
“I hope it's something we keep looking at because I think we've got to protect our league on that and I think that's something we've got to look out for each other on.”