Weeks of speculation have come to an end as Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa announced Monday that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Tagovailoa held a news conference with Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban at his side.
At the news conference, Tua Tagovailoa thanked the school and his teammates. Saban pointed out how the quarterback is close to graduating and applauded his quarterback for his off-the field-leadership. He said Tagovailoa “probably had as much of an impact on the program here as any player we’ve ever had.” Tagovailoa called his situation with regards to the NFL, “unique,” knowing the scouts will be taking a chance on how well he recovers from the surgery. He said he is unsure if he can do Pro Day workouts prior to the draft. Tagovailoa said scouts told him they were treating the injury like a knee injury in terms of when he be mobile and workout.
Tagavailoa was at one time a lock for the top pick in the NFL. But that was before the Tide’s game against Mississippi State in Starkville in November. A dislocated and fractured hip suffered just before halftime in a blowout Alabama win changed the trajectory and renewed questions about his durability. He was just coming back from surgery to repair a high ankle sprain. He has had three significant ankle sprains in a year. The hip injury took him out for the rest of the season.
He threw for 2,840 yards, 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions in nine games this season. He would have been a lock as a finalist for the 2019 Heisman Trophy after also being a finalist in 2018. Last year he threw for 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns and six interceptions last year, leading Alabama to an SEC title and a berth in the 2019 CFP National Championship game. In the championship game he threw two interceptions in the Tide’s 44-16 loss to Clemson.
In previous reports, Team surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain deemed Tagavailoa’s recovery prognosis as “excellent.” The projected timetable had him returning to on-field action in early Spring. That timing would coincide with the NFL workouts. Tagovailoa said he will be staying on campus to continue his rehab prior to NFL workouts.
Following Tagavailoa’s injury, redshirt sophomore Mac Jones stepped in at quarterback and led Alabama to a 35-16 win over Michigan in the 2020 Citrus Bowl last week.
Tagovailoa’s brother, Taulia, and Paul Tyson are set to be redshirt freshmen on the Alabama roster next year. They will be immediately eligible to play. Alabama also signed five-star prospect Bryce Young during the early signing period. Young was rated as the top quarterback prospect in the class out of Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, CA.
So far, Alabama has lost Jerry Jeudy, Jedrick Wills and Xavier McKinney to the NFL draft.