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Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray to meet again in an Eagles-Cardinals showdown

Hurts and Murray will face each other in the pros for the second time, and they both have ties to Oklahoma and being dual-threat quarterbacks coming from the state of Texas.

Kyler Murray (right) and Jalen Hurts never were teammates at Oklahoma, but Hurts followed Murray's footsteps in transferring into the Sooners program.
Kyler Murray (right) and Jalen Hurts never were teammates at Oklahoma, but Hurts followed Murray's footsteps in transferring into the Sooners program.Read moreMichael Reaves / Getty Images

Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray have plenty in common.

The quarterbacks were raised in Texas — roughly 300 miles away from each other, with Hurts attending Channelview High School near Houston and Murray at Allen High School near Dallas. Both transferred to Oklahoma to conclude their college careers, although they never actually were teammates; Murray won the Heisman Trophy in 2018, while Hurts joined the Sooners the following season after transferring from Alabama. As their individual careers unfolded, they’ve also developed similar reputations as dual-threat quarterbacks.

On Sunday, Hurts and Murray will meet for just the second time in the pros with the undefeated Eagles traveling to play the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

With Hurts in Year 3 and Murray in Year 4, their admiration for each other continues to grow.

“Since I was in high school, I’ve always had a lot of respect for Kyler,” Hurts said Wednesday. “Texas is a really big state. It’s a football state. I always remember him doing his thing in the DFW in Allen. He won every game in high school; that’s very impressive. He was able to do great things at OU, winning the Heisman.

“He’s off to a great start in his career now.”

When Hurts decided to transfer, he met with Murray and then-coach Lincoln Riley on campus in Norman, Okla. During that meeting, Hurts peppered Murray with questions about the playbook and his time at Oklahoma.

“I’m fortunate to have played for Coach Riley,” Hurts said. “And I’m fortunate to have been able to have learned from and watch tape from the guys before me.”

Asked if succeeding Murray at Oklahoma presented a challenge, Hurts simply responded: “I’m just doing me.”

Nearly four years later, Hurts, 24, has led the Eagles to a sizzling start, while Murray’s Cardinals are 2-2. Through four games, Hurts has emerged as an early MVP candidate and is eligible for a contract extension at the conclusion of the season. Murray, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, recently signed a five-year extension worth $230.5 million with $160 million in guaranteed salary.

If Hurts continues to perform at a high level, he’ll keep driving his price up and likely warrant a similar deal.

» READ MORE: A Jalen Hurts contract extension from the Eagles is more a question of when than if after his big leap

The Eagles are the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL, and the offense has proven to be a sizable headache for opposing defenses. Protected by one of the deepest offensive lines in football, Hurts is surrounded by multiple weapons including wide receivers A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and Zach Pascal, tight end Dallas Goedert, and running backs Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott. The Eagles rank first in explosive plays (49), second in total offense (435.5 yards per game), and fourth in points per game (28.8).

The ever-stoic Hurts has remained levelheaded through it all. Even during his appearance with Peyton and Eli Manning on Monday Night Football’s “ManningCast,” Hurts rarely broke character.

And after fielding questions for nearly 10 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, Hurts went out of his way to address the Cardinals from the auditorium inside the NovaCare Complex: “This is a really good team we’re about to play. They have a really good defense. They’re disruptive up front. They have speed on the back end.”

The first edition of Hurts-Murray on Dec. 20, 2020, lived up to its billing. The pair put on memorable performances, with the Eagles losing in a shootout, 33-26. Hurts, who was a rookie at the time, finished with 401 combined yards and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing), while Murray had a career-high 406 passing yards and an identical four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing).

Hurts’ performance was commendable considering that more than half of the main players he targeted that game are no longer with the team. His pass catchers in Week 15 of the 2020 season included wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, and Watkins, tight ends Zach Ertz and Goedert, and running backs Sanders and Scott. Of that group, only Watkins, Goedert, Sanders, and Scott remain on the Eagles.

Meanwhile, Ertz is nearly one year removed from his trade to the Cardinals.

Ertz’s history with the Eagles runs deep. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and served as an integral piece of the only Super Bowl-winning team in franchise history. Despite being teammates for only several months, Ertz insists he learned plenty from Hurts.

“I know Jalen is one of the hardest working players that I have ever been around,” Ertz said. “Even though we didn’t play together for a long time, we were able to have fun throwing after practice. Just working on our craft together for that short amount of time.

“I’m not surprised by the success that he’s having.”

Inquirer Eagles beat reporters EJ Smith and Josh Tolentino preview the team’s Week 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals and Zach Ertz. Watch at