Tagovailoa on freshman season: 'I wanted to leave'
Alabama came close to losing the national championship game. It also nearly lost one of its brightest young stars.
According to a report from Hawaiinewsnow.com, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa spoke to a crowd of seventh and eighth graders Thursday morning in his hometown of Ewa Beach Hi., describing how he nearly transferred from the Crimson Tide after not receiving much playing time during his freshman year last season.
"I called my dad and asked him if my offer to the University of Southern California was still available," Tagovailoa said in the report. "I wanted to leave. I told my dad I wanted to go to a school where I thought it'd be easier for me and wouldn't challenge me so much.”
Tagovailoa earned offensive MVP honors during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, coming off the bench in the second half to replace starter Jalen Hurts. Trailing Georgia 13-0 at the half, Tagovailoa rallied the Crimson Tide back, completing 14 of 24 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner to receiver DeVonta Smith in overtime to cap off a 26-23 victory.
So what would have happened if Tagovailoa hadn’t taken the field in the second half?
“I told myself if I didn't play in the last game, which was the national championship game, I would transfer out,” Tagovailoa said. “If I gave in, I don't think I would have seen the end blessing of where I am now.”
Tagovailoa appeared in nine games last season, throwing for 636 yards and 11 touchdowns with two interceptions. He was limited this spring after breaking a bone in his throwing hand during Alabama’s first practice of camp. While he did not participate during the A-Day game, he is expected to recover in time to battle Hurts for the starting spot this fall.
"It's doing good. We got the opportunity to see someone down here [in Honolulu] and we're doing rehab with him," Tagovaioa told Hawaiinewsnow.com. "So far we're good, we're on track. I just can't wait to get the ball rolling. Once I start throwing again, I feel we should be fine."
Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked about the possibility of playing both Hurts and Tagovailoa next season during the Regions Tradition Pro-Am in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. The head coach said he hadn’t given much thought to the topic at the moment, continuing to state both quarterbacks will be given a chance to win the starting job.
“We’ve got two guys competing at the position. I’m not going to speculation on things that may or may not happen,” Saban said. “We have a lot of choices and decisions that have to be made.”