Tua Tagovailoa
Tagovailoa with Alabama in 2018
No. 1 – Miami Dolphins
Position:Quarterback
Personal information
Born: (1998-03-02) March 2, 1998 (age 23)
ʻEwa Beach, Hawaii
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:217 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school:Saint Louis School (Honolulu, Hawaii)
College:Alabama (2017–2019)
NFL Draft:2020 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2020
TDINT:11–5
Passing yards:1,814
Completion percentage:64.1
Passer rating:87.5
Rushing yards:109
Rushing touchdowns:3
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Tuanigamanuolepola "Tua" Tagovailoa (/ˌtʌŋvˈlə/ TUNG-oh-vy-LOW-uh; born March 2, 1998) is an American football quarterback for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Alabama, whom he led to consecutive National Championship Games in 2017 and 2018, winning the former. Although he suffered a severe hip injury during a game in 2019, he was selected fifth overall by the Dolphins in the 2020 NFL Draft. Tagovailoa shared playing time with Ryan Fitzpatrick during his rookie season.

Early life and high school career

Tagovailoa[1] was born in ʻEwa Beach, Hawaii, to Galu and Diane Tagovailoa, as the oldest of four children in a Samoan family.[2][3] He was said to have grown up with an intense interest in football, with his parents noting that he would sleep with a football under his arm every night as a small child.[2] During Pop Warner games when he was eight years old, when his peers could typically throw a football little more than 10 yards, he routinely threw passes of more than 30 yards.[4]

As a child his main inspiration was his grandfather, Seu Tagovailoa, who was highly respected in the local Samoan community; Seu was regularly addressed as "Chief Tagovailoa". Seu believed that Tua would eventually grow into a football star, and he requested that he visit him after every game to give him a report, no matter the time of day. Tua briefly considered quitting football after Seu's death in mid-2014, until he and his father agreed that he could best honor him by continuing to play.[4][5]

When Tagovailoa began varsity football in high school, he threw for 33 passing touchdowns during his first season with three interceptions and 2,583 passing yards.[6] Tagovailoa said a big inspiration and motivation for his performance was how his father disciplined him, saying he used a belt whenever Tagovailoa threw an interception.[2] In 2016, Tagovailoa played in the All-American Bowl,[7] and in his regular season threw for 2,669 passing yards with 27 passing touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was also chosen to be a part of the Elite 11 roster as one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation, where he was named MVP of that roster.[8]

Tagovailoa was deemed a four-star recruit during the 2017 recruiting cycle and was ranked the top high school prospect in the state of Hawaii.[9] He attended Saint Louis School in Honolulu, the same school as 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and future Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota,[10] where Mariota served as a mentor to him when they were growing up in Hawaii.[11] He had 17 offers to play on a college football scholarship before eventually enrolling at the University of Alabama in January 2017.

College career

2017

As a true freshman, Tagovailoa was the backup to sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts throughout the 2017 season. However, he experienced significant playing time due to a couple of blowout victories for the Crimson Tide. On September 9, he made his collegiate debut against Fresno State in a home game at Bryant–Denny Stadium. In the 41–10 victory, he finished 6-of-9 for 64 yards and his first career passing touchdown, which was a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.[12] On September 23, in a 59–0 victory against Vanderbilt, he got more playing time and recorded 103 passing yards and two passing touchdowns.[13] In the next game, against SEC West rival Ole Miss, he recorded his first collegiate rushing touchdown in a 66–3 victory.[14] In the annual rivalry game against Tennessee, he finished with 134 passing yards, one passing touchdown, one interception, and one rushing touchdown in the 45–7 victory.[15] On November 18, in a game against Mercer, he threw for three passing touchdowns in the 56–0 victory.[16] On January 8, 2018, he replaced Hurts in the second half of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship due to ineffective play by Hurts.[17] He threw the game-winning 41-yard touchdown pass in overtime to another true freshman, wide receiver DeVonta Smith as the Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs; 26–23 claiming their 17th National Championship. He finished the game 14-of-24 for 166 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and one interception, along with 27 rushing yards on 12 attempts.[18][19] Tagovailoa was named the Offensive MVP of the game.[20]

2018

On September 1, 2018, Tagovailoa made his first career start at the season's opening game, against Louisville, in Orlando, Florida. He finished 12-of-16, with 227 passing yards and two touchdowns in the 51–14 victory, before Jalen Hurts replaced him in the third quarter.[21] During Alabama head coach Nick Saban's weekly Monday press conference following the victory, he announced Tagovailoa as the starter for The Crimson Tide's home opener against Arkansas State on September 8.[22] In the 62–7 victory over Ole Miss, he was 11-of-15 for 191 passing yards and two touchdowns to go along with 47 rushing yards.[23] He continued his efficient season against Texas A&M with 387 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown in the 45–23 victory.[24] In a limited role against Louisiana, he was 8-of-8 passing for 128 passing yards and two passing touchdowns in the 56–14 victory.[25] In the next game against Arkansas, he had more passing touchdowns than incompletions as he went 10-of-13 for 334 passing yards and four passing touchdowns in the 65–31 victory.[26] Following the regular season, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, but he won the Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Award for 2018, both awarded to the top player in college football.[27] While recovering from the high ankle sprain he suffered during the SEC Championship against Georgia, Tagovailoa put on a nearly flawless offensive performance against Oklahoma in the 2018 Orange Bowl (24-of-27 with 318 yards passing, four touchdowns and no interceptions) to lead the Tide to their fourth consecutive CFP National Championship appearance. He was also named Offensive MVP of that game.[28] In the 2018 National Championship loss (44–16) against Clemson, Tagovailoa went 22-of-34 with 295 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.[29] He also set a new NCAA FBS passer rating record of 199.4 for the season, surpassing the record 198.9 set by Baker Mayfield in 2017.[30]

2019

Tagovailoa began his junior season at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game with a victory against Duke in Atlanta. He finished 26-of-31 with 336 passing yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions before sitting out the fourth quarter.[31] The second game of the season was a home opener victory against New Mexico State. Tagovailoa finished that game 16-of-24 with 227 passing yards, four total touchdowns (one rushing) and no interceptions before sitting out the fourth quarter.[32] In his third game of the season, a victory against South Carolina, Tagovailoa finished 28-of-36 with 444 passing yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions.[33] In the Tide's 49–7 victory against Southern Miss, Tagovailoa finished 17-of-21 with 293 passing yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions.[34] In the Tide's fifth game, a victory against Ole Miss, Tagovailoa finished 26-of-36 with 418 passing yards, seven touchdowns (one rushing) and no interceptions.[35] In the Tide's 47–28 victory against Texas A&M, Tagovailoa finished 21-of-34 with 293 passing yards, four touchdowns, and one interception.[36]

Tagovailoa left the Tide's seventh game against Tennessee early in the second quarter after suffering a high ankle sprain.[37] He underwent surgery to repair the ankle the following day, and did not play in the next game against Arkansas (a 48–7 victory led by quarterback Mac Jones).[38][39] Tagovailoa returned three weeks post-surgery to play in the 46–41 loss to top-ranked LSU.[40] Despite some struggles (a fumble and INT) in the first half of that game, Tagovailoa rebounded after halftime to finish 21-of-40 with 413 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception.[41]

In the Tide's matchup against Mississippi State, Tagovailoa led the team to a 35–7 lead (14-of-18, 256 passing yards, two touchdowns) before leaving the game after a sack that saw his knee driven into the ground, causing his hip to dislocate and fracturing the posterior wall, as well as suffering a broken nose and concussion.[42][43] He was carted off the field and flown to a Birmingham hospital before undergoing surgery in Houston two days later.[43]

In January 2020, Tagovailoa announced that he would forgo his senior year and enter the 2020 NFL Draft.[44] Tagovailoa finished his collegiate career as holder of numerous Alabama football records, as well as notable NCAA career records, including: passing yards per attempt (10.9), adjusted passing yards per attempt (12.7), passing efficiency rating (199.4), and total yards per play (9.8).[45][46] He graduated with a bachelor's degree in communication studies in August 2020.[47]

Statistics

Season Team Games Passing Rushing
GP GS Cmp Att Pct Yards Avg TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD
2017 Alabama 8 0 49 77 63.6 636 8.3 11 2 175.0 27 133 4.9 2
2018 Alabama 15 15 245 355 69.0 3,966 11.2 43 6 199.4 57 190 3.3 5
2019 Alabama 9 9 180 252 71.4 2,840 11.3 33 3 206.9 21 25 1.2 2
Career 32 24 474 684 69.3 7,442 10.9 87 11 199.4 105 348 3.3 9

Professional career

2020 season

Tagovailoa was projected to be taken first overall in the 2020 NFL Draft until his season-ending injury led to LSU quarterback and 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow supplanting him as the draft's top prospect.[48][49][50][51][52][53] Despite injury concerns, however, Tagovailoa was selected fifth overall by the Miami Dolphins and was the second-highest drafted quarterback behind Burrow.[54] Tagovailoa was also the first left-handed quarterback to be drafted by an NFL team since Tim Tebow in 2010.[55] As his college jersey number of 13 was retired by the Dolphins in honor of Dan Marino, Tagovailoa chose to wear number 1.[56] On May 11, 2020, Tagovailoa signed his four-year rookie contract worth $30 million.[57] He passed his physical with the team in July 2020 to begin training camp,[58] but was named the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick to start the season.[59]

Tagovailoa made his debut appearance in a Week 6 game against the New York Jets, coming in relief of Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter of a 24–0 win where he threw two passes for nine yards.[60] His NFL appearance was the first for a left-handed quarterback since Kellen Moore in 2015.[61] During the team's bye week, Tagovailoa was named the starter for their Week 8 game against the Los Angeles Rams.[62] On Tagovailoa's first career pass attempt as a starter, he was strip sacked by Aaron Donald. Later in the game Tagovailoa recorded his first career touchdown on a pass thrown to DeVante Parker.[63] In Week 11 against the Denver Broncos, Tagovailoa threw for 83 yards and a touchdown before being replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick early in the fourth quarter with the Broncos leading 20–10.[64] Tagovailoa jammed his thumb in practice prior to a Week 12 game against the Jets and missed the game.[65] He made his return in Week 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he threw for 296 yards and a touchdown during a 19–7 win.[66] In Week 16 against the Las Vegas Raiders, Tagovailoa threw for 94 yards and a touchdown before being benched in favor of Fitzpatrick again in the fourth quarter.[67] In Week 17 against the Buffalo Bills, he threw for a career-high 361 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions during a 56–26 loss.[68]

NFL statistics

Year Team Games Passing Rushing Sacks Fumbles
GP GS Record Comp Att Pct Yds Avg TD Int Rate Att Yds Avg TD Sack SckY Fum Lost
2020 MIA 10 9 6−3 186 290 64.1 1,814 6.3 11 5 87.1 36 109 3.0 3 15 101 1 1
Career 10 9 6−3 186 290 64.1 1,814 6.3 11 5 87.1 36 109 3.0 3 15 101 1 1

Personal life

Tagovailoa graduated early from Saint Louis School and moved with his family to Alabaster, Alabama after his commitment to Alabama.[69] Tagovailoa is a Christian.[70] Although he is predominantly right-handed, his father trained him to throw the ball with his left hand as a child.[71] As of 2021, he is the only left-handed quarterback starting in the NFL.

His younger brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, is a college football quarterback for the Maryland Terrapins. He transferred there in 2020 after spending a year as Tua's backup at Alabama in 2019.[69][72] Tagovailoa's cousins also play football. Myron Amosa-Tagovailoa plays on the defensive line at Notre Dame and Adam Amosa-Tagovailoa played on the offensive line at Navy.[73]

References

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