Taulia Tagovailoa Garnering National Attention
It wasn't so long ago the Alabama Crimson Tide had two Tagovailoa's on its roster. One became one of the most prolific passers in the program's history, while the other moved on to greener pastures.
No one could blame Taulia Tagovailoa for transferring away from Alabama. Mac Jones had secured a serious chance at the 2020 starting job when he stepped in for the older Tagovailoa to close the 2019 season. On top of that, the Crimson Tide's current starting quarterback, Bryce Young, had announced his intentions to play his collegiate football in Tuscaloosa.
There just wasn't any room for burdened with the looming shadow of a brother who broke so many records and created countless unforgettable memories in the minds of Crimson Tide fans.
Tagovailoa had followed for too long. He played high school football at Thompson High School when the Tagovailoa family followed his older brother to Alabama. He followed his brother to Tuscaloosa in turn. And when his brother was drafted 5th overall by the Miami Dolphins, everyone, myself included, thought Tagovailoa would transfer to the state of Florida to once again follow his brother.
But the following had to come to an end. As important as family is to the Tagovailoas, Taulia's story isn't about his brother.
So, Tagovailoa went about as far away as the East Coast would allow him to be. He joined his first collegiate offensive coordinator, Mike Locksley, in Maryland.
The Terrapins have been far from a powerhouse since joining the Big Ten conference in 2014. Its first season in the conference was the last time the program finished above .500.
That's about to change. The Terrapins are 4-0, primed to be disruptive in a wide-open Big Ten race to Indianapolis.
And it's because of the quarterback. Tagovailoa is playing at an elite level, worthy of national recognition and Heisman Trophy hype.
1,340 yards on 75% completion percentage with 10 touchdowns to just one interception through the 2021 season's first four games. Compare that to his entire season a year ago, where Tagovailoa threw for 1,011 yards, seven touchdowns, seven interceptions and just 61% completions, the redshirt sophomore quarterback is a new man.
He's gaining the notoriety he's due. 247Sports ranked him as the top quarterback in his conference heading into Week 5 of the college football season. Several outlets, including DraftKings, 247Sports and ESPN's Robert Griffin III have looked at Tagovailoa as a legitimate dark horse to win the Heisman Trophy.
Gaining that attention is one thing. Holding it, making good on it? That's something else entirely.
Read More: Continue To Cheer Taulia Tagovailoa On
Tagovailoa and his Terrapins are preparing for the true test of its 2021 schedule. Friday night, Maryland takes on No. 5 Iowa at home. The next week, No. 11 Ohio State. Three of Maryland's last four games are against teams currently ranked in the top 20: Penn State (No. 4), Michigan State (No. 17) and Michigan (No. 14.)
The opportunity to capitalize on the hype and tear down the shadows that loom from the text just above the No. 3 on the back of his red jersey lay before Tagovailoa. The hurdles are high, but the reward matches the challenge if he can rise to the occasion over the next eight games.