Tua becomes fan favorite in starting season


CW/ Hannah Saad

Cody Estremera, Sports Editor

When quarterback Tua Tagovailoa trotted out onto Camping World Stadium’s field, the Alabama fan base went crazy. It answered the question Alabama fans had been asking since midway through last season: Tagovailoa was the starting quarterback.

Coach Nick Saban kept quiet about his decision on who the starter would be until Thursday. Not even Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts knew.

The decision to start Tagovailoa has paid off to this point, as he leads the SEC with 14 touchdowns and has led the Crimson Tide to five blowout wins.

“He has played extremely well in every game,” Saban said. “He’s right on target most of the time, not only in where he delivers the ball but who he delivers it to, and why he should do it that way. I think our coaches have done a really good job of helping him be able to understand exactly what the expectation is. He would be the first to tell you that all the players on offense—the protection has been pretty good for him and the receivers have done a good job of getting open.”

Tagovailoa has become the latest star on the Alabama roster. Everywhere he goes he is the focal point of attention. Fans are constantly coming up to him and asking for pictures, but he doesn’t decline the publicity.

“It’s his personality,” wide receiver Henry Ruggs III said. “He’s coming out of his shell and showing his true personality. He’s a great person. He’s open. It’s just starting to show now.”

Tagovailoa hasn’t let his fame distract him from his family. When his brother’s high school team came to Tuscaloosa to play the night before the Texas A&M game, Tagovailoa was there on the sidelines. He credits his faith for keeping him humble. Crosses made of eye black can be seen on his face during every game.

Tagovailoa said he keeps everything simple.

“Most definitely not going overboard with things,” Tagovailoa said. “Staying level-headed. Knowing who I am. I’d say most definitely with my faith, there’s no room for me with it, you know? It’s always about other people. It’s always about loving on other people and most definitely giving praise where praise is due.”

Tagovailoa joined the Crimson Tide in the 2017 recruiting class. He was ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the sixth-best prospect to sign with Alabama in that class.

He is one of eight players from that class who start at their respective positions. Now entering their second year on the team, the chemistry is there.

“He was kind of quiet,” Ruggs said. “He was always a hard worker, so he would come in and do his work, as he didn’t know anybody, but we went through a spring, a summer, a fall and got to know each other better – got to do a little extra work and just bonded as brothers.”

That bond extends past the 2017 class. Even though they were competing for a job, Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts have remained close.

“Our communication with how we see things now, I think, has grown a lot,” Tagovailoa said. “When I go in on 7 on 7, he’s kind of watching in the back. When he goes in, I watch in the back. Sometimes we question each other, like ‘Why did you do this? Why did you do that?’ The communication with us has been really good.”