Fans of college football are still buzzing over word that Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is entering the NFL Draft. Alabama Coach Nick Saban wasted no time in singing the praises of the quarterback.
“I don’t think he’s every been in of my office one time, the whole time he’s been here, for anything but something that’s positive in terms of helping him or helping the rest of our program," Saban said.
During the coach's comments, the focus of a lot of the cameras in the room was just to his right. That’s where Tagovailoa sat without the crutch he’d been leaning on for much of the time since hip surgery in Houston. After Saban’s comments on the quarterback’s good character, it was the quarterback's turn.
“With lots of prayers, thoughts, and guidance, I’ve decided to enter the NFL draft," he said.
Those dozen or so words were what the assembled press, and the much of the college football world, was there to hear. And to hear Tagovailoa tell it, the decision wasn’t an easy one to make.
“It’s been tough," he said. "I've been going back and forth, you know. Because some things make sense, some others don’t. I just had to factor in a lot of things, on why I should stay or why I should leave.”
And the feelings of his team mates, coaches, and his family weren’t the only thing Tagovailoa was considering. The University of Alabama junior has spent a lot of time talking with NFL General Managers, one of whom might be his future boss. Tagovailoa said one question kept coming up.
“Okay, are we going to take a chance on this guy, or could he possibly a do a pro-day before the draft and whatnot," he said. "And, the biggest thing that want to do is see if he can move and we can be back to how we were…playing.”
This isn’t the first time Tagovlailia has made headlines. He was a freshman when he came out of the shadow of Jalen Hurts. He was starting quarterback during Alabama’s 2018 national championship game against Georgia. Saban talked about it during the post game press conference.
“I just didn’t think we could run the ball well enough, and I thought Tua woud give a better chance and a spark—which he certainly did," Saban said.
That spark included a pass in overtime that became known as the Tua Bomb. The throw to freshman wide receiver DeVonta Smith sealed the Tide’s victory and the title. But, to paraphrase Saban, the trip from the Penthouse to the doghouse can come quickly.
Tagovailoa led the Tide against the Clemson Tigers for the 2019 title in San Jose. It appeared little more than a rout with Clemson thrashing Alabama 44-16. Tagovailoa sat with his head hung low during that post game presser until it was his turn to speak.
“We had a great season. But just five words: good is not good enough," the quarterback said. "We didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish. We didn’t do the things we needed to do to execute and be successful, and that’s all it is.”
And for those fans of the Crimson Tide who thought it couldn’t get worse than that, a shock came last November. Alabama played an away game against Mississippi State when two Bulldog defenders took Tagovailoa down hard. Witnesses along the sideline heard him screaming, and television viewers saw him on the ground with blood gushing from his nose. During the Tuscaloosa press conference announcing his decision to enter the draft, even Tagovailoa was philosophical about it all.
“I’d say it’s been a roller coaster because I’ve got to see the spectrum of both sides—a lot of success—winning a national championship, losing a national championship, going through adversity, coming back from it, continuing to go through it," he said. "It’s been a mixture of emotions.”
Tagovailoa might not be the last Tide player to say his farewells. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and offensive tackle Jedrick Wells announced their intentions over the weekend to enter the draft. Saban hinted that two more players might be making similar decisions in the near future.