13 Days Away From Bama Kickoff: Tua Tagovailoa
Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight a former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. In honor of 13 days until kickoff, let's look at the Crimson Tide career of Tua Tagovailoa.
Tua Tagovailoa suited up for the Crimson Tide from 2017-19, and revolutionized the Alabama offense in his time with the program. He helped take the Tide from a simpler smashmouth philosophy into the modern era of high-flying, pass heavy offenses.
Tagovailoa was a five-star prospect and the No. 1 rated dual threat quarterback in his class, and chose the Crimson Tide over the likes of USC, Oregon, Washington and more. He arrived on campus as the backup to Jalen Hurts, but quickly showed he was more than just a second string option.
As a freshman, Tagovailoa saw time sparingly throughout the regular season, mostly coming in for mop-up duty, but he managed to turn heads with his ability in those performances. While the Tide's starter, Hurts, guided the team to wins week in, week out, Tagovailoa looked as if he could take the offense to another level.
By the final game of the year, the offense's shortcomings from the regular season were on full display as Alabama faced off against a vicious Georgia defense. At halftime of the 2018 National Championship game, Nick Saban made a decision that completely changed the trajectory of both Tagovailoa and Hurts' careers.
As most of you likely recall, the Ewa Beach, HI native stepped in for the second half and guided the Tide back from a 13 point deficit, ending the game with a walk-off touchdown and giving Alabama its 17th national championship.
Tagovailoa took over as the starter for the 2018 season despite Hurts remaining on the roster, and continued to build on the foundation of his impressive freshman year. He threw for nearly 4,000 yards and over 40 touchdowns, guiding the Tide to an absolutely dominant regular season.
Alabama faced off against Georgia once more, this time for the SEC title, but Tagovailoa struggled to find his rhythm in the game and eventually went down with an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter. In stepped Hurts, who did his best Tagovailoa impression and guided the team back against the Bulldogs, ending with a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute.
Tagovailoa returned for Alabama's trip to the College Football Playoff and put together a dominant performance against Oklahoma in the semifinal game, but against Clemson in the National Championship, struggled mightily. The Tide lost in embarrassing fashion, 44-16, missing out on back-to-back titles.
In his junior season, 2019, Tagovailoa continued to push Alabama's offense to the next level, but he also struggled with injuries. He appeared in only nine games, and Alabama finished the year 10-2, missing out on the College Football Playoff for the first time.
Despite rumors that he would return for a senior season, Tagovailoa entered the 2020 NFL Draft and was selected fifth overall by the Miami Dolphins. Though his time in Miami has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, Tagovailoa looks poised for a breakout season this year under new coach Mike McDaniel.