Deshaun Watson Told Jalen Hurts to 'Be Fearless' After 2016 CFP Championship

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2017

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts talks with teammates on the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts sought advice from an unlikely source following last year's loss to the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Hurts said he spoke with former Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson because the latter had helped Clemson win a national title a season after falling short against Alabama, per ESPN.com's Chris Low:

"Deshaun's done what I'm trying to do. So I hit him up, and we had a really good conversation and he had some really good advice for me and told me how he overcame it. I took what he told me and tried to apply it. ... He told me to be fearless and go get it. He recognized the dog mentality in me, the 'it' factor in me. That's how we compare and, I think, the reason we connected."

Watson rebounded from the Tigers' 45-40 loss a year earlier to torch the Crimson Tide secondary for 420 yards and three touchdowns in last season's national championship. He also connected with Hunter Renfrow on a two-yard touchdown in the game's final seconds to win.

Watson set the standard for how to respond to a heartbreaking defeat.

And while he didn't know it at the time, his suggestion to "be fearless" will be particularly apt for Hurts ahead of Monday's Sugar Bowl since the Alabama star is facing one of the most fearsome front sevens in college football.

Clemson is third in sacks and first in adjusted sack rate, according to Football Outsiders. The Tigers are also third in front-seven havoc rate, which measures "a team's total tackles for loss, passes defensed and forced fumbles divided by total plays."

Hurts didn't have a great game through the air against Clemson a year ago, throwing for 131 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-31 passing. He did, however, put Alabama ahead with a 30-yard touchdown run with 2:07 left in the contest.

There's no question the Crimson Tide will need more from the sophomore if they're to get the better of Clemson in the rubber match.

Depending on the outcome, Watson may come to regret offering any help to his former opponent.

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