Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

QB Tua Tagovailoa thanks his Lord and Savior before declaring for NFL draft

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s time at Alabama has come to a close. On Monday afternoon, Tagovailoa announced he will forgo his senior season and enter the 2020 NFL Draft, where he is a projected top-10 pick.

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“With lots of prayers, thoughts and guidance, I have decided that I will be declaring and entering the 2020 NFL Draft,” Tagovailoa said. “My three years at the University of Alabama have been the epitome of a roller coaster. I’ve had a fair share of many ups and a handful of downs, and I couldn’t be happier to know that with all the success and failures I’ve had here at the university, it has prepared me for life in general.”

Before making his official announcement, Tagovailoa gave thanks to God.

“I have had a difficult time making this decision about my future, but first and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for this opportunity to stand before you all with my decision,” he said.

Tagovailoa’s junior season ended Nov. 16 when he suffered a hip injury against Mississippi State, and how he heals from the injury will determine if he can play next season. But Tagovailoa is confident he’ll be ready for whichever NFL team selects him. He said he wasn’t waiting for doctors to give him the go-ahead, as the ultimate decision came down to his faith.

“These kind of things don’t really take the doctors, they don’t really take myself,” he said. “It pretty much boils down to one thing, and I think that’s faith. It boils down to that. Coming from a family that has a lot of it, I’m definitely willing to take that challenge.”

The Tagovailoa family sought advice from pastors and friends, such as Church of the Highlands founding pastor Chris Hodges (multiple locations throughout Central Alabama), a friend of Tua’s father Galu, as well as pastors in Hawaii (where Tagovailoa is from) and pastor Perry Stone.

“They pretty much all had the same thing: Follow your heart,” Tagovailoa said, adding, “We prayed a lot about it. This is a decision that I am going to have to live with. I made it and I’m good with it.”

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who has groomed many players for the NFL, said it’s not his nor his staff’s job to make such a big decision for a player, but provide assistance. Speaking before Tagovailoa came to the podium, Saban pointed out the influence the quarterback has had on the team with his “spirit.”

“Tua has probably had as much of an impact on the program here as any player we’ve ever had,” Saban said.

Tagovailoa broke into the spotlight when he took over for Jalen Hurts in the 2017-18 national championship game as a true freshman, throwing for 166 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Crimson Tide to a 26-23 overtime victory against Georgia.

He took over as Alabama’s starting quarterback in 2018 and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore. Tagovailoa finished the season with 3,996 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes. Alabama reached the national championship game again, where Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide fell to Clemson.

He threw for 2,840 yards and accounted for 35 total touchdowns in the nine games he played in 2019 before the hip injury, which ultimately ended his college career. He leaves Alabama with 7,442 passing yards and 87 passing touchdowns. No player in Crimson Tide history has more total touchdowns than Tagovailoa’s 96.

The 2020 NFL Draft starts on April 23 and will run through April 25.

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