Tua Tagovailoa announces he will declare for NFL draft


Photo by CW / Joe Will Field Graphic by CW / Savannah Bullard

James Ogletree | @jameslogletree, Sports Editor

Alabama junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will forgo his final year of collegiate eligibility and declare for the NFL draft, he announced in a press conference on Monday morning.

“My love for The University of Alabama, our coaches, our fans and my teammates have made this especially hard for me,” Tagovailoa said. “I can’t express how grateful I am to have attended the greatest school in college.”

Tagovailoa reportedly suffered a dislocated hip and posterior wall fracture against Mississippi State on Nov. 16. According to a statement from Alabama team orthopedist Lyle Cain, he underwent hip surgery two days later.

He said will continue his rehab in Tuscaloosa despite his decision to move on the NFL.

Despite the injury, recent NFL mock drafts have still projected him to be chosen within the top five picks. Tagovailoa, however, didn’t answer a question about where he expected to be drafted, saying it will depend on his rehab.

“I don’t think any of the doctors can tell the foreseeable future,” Tagovailoa said. “From what they’ve seen in New York everything looks good, but you can’t really tell until the three-month mark or the four-month mark.”

He said the NFL owners and general managers he’s spoken with have said it’s a unique situation and that they’ll be looking to see the extent to which he regains his mobility.

He admitted that he had gone back and forth in his decision, but arrived at his decision after weighing a multitude of factors.

Coach Nick Saban spent more time during his brief opening statement praising Tagovailoa’s positivity and impact on his teammates than his on-the-field accomplishments.

“Tua has probably had as much impact on our program here as any player we’ve ever had,” Saban said. “… You probably don’t fully understand the significance of the contributions he’s made off the field with his teammates.”

The quarterback’s sophomore season, in which he threw for 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns and six interceptions, saw him voted as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. His 199.6 passer rating was the highest in NCAA history for a single season at the time.

His 206.9 rating this season would have broken his own record, but he did not play in enough games to qualify.

Tagovailoa ranks No. 1 in Alabama history in career touchdown passes (87), career completion percentage (69.3; minimum 250 completions), single-season touchdown passes (43; 2018), single-season passing yards (3,966; 2018) and single-game touchdown passes (6; 2019 vs. Ole Miss).

His 7,442 career passing yards rank third in school history, behind only A.J. McCarron and John Parker Wilson. 

His career-high 444 passing yards against South Carolina this year also rank third in school history.

Shortly after Tagovailoa’s press conference ended, junior wide receiver DeVonta Smith announced on Instagram that he would return to Alabama for his senior season.