Ready to roll?
In what has to be considered one of the biggest signings in Hawaii prep football history, Tua Tagovailoa committed to the University of Alabama on Monday. The junior out of Saint Louis School is one of the most prized recruits in the country and he has decided that the Crimson Tide have the best program for his talents.
Alabama has developed sort of an Evil Empire persona as the dominant force in college football. Outside of Tuscaloosa, there isn’t much love for the Tide. It’s really hard for me to ever root for Nick Saban, but we might now have to clear Alabama a softer spot in our hearts.
With so many scholarship offers on the table, Tagovailoa has had his choice between many of the nation’s top programs. His decision really is an historic one for Hawaii. There haven’t been many players who have left the state to go play in the SEC, let alone Alabama. It has long been considered a conference that features the fastest and most talented athletes from all 50 states.
Now Tagovailoa will be competing to take the leadership role for that program. He has showed a bit of everything at Saint Louis, throwing for 33 touchdowns and accounting for more than 3,000 total yards last season.
Whether he can make that transition at Alabama remains to be seen. The Tide haven’t historically incorporated many dual-threat types of quarterbacks into their offense. They seem to prefer the traditional drop-back passer, which Tagovailoa can certainly do. But that’s not all he can do. He has the ability to leave the pocket without putting possession at risk, which has clearly been the direction college football has been moving.
When Marcus Mariota went to Oregon, he was joining a successful program that had just been to the National Championship Game. But even that isn’t quite the same as going to Alabama, which has won four of the past seven national titles, including a 45-40 win over Clemson in January.
Mariota became a national superstar and really cemented Oregon as a national program. Tagovailoa will be hard pressed to elevate Alabama’s national status. His dream of playing college football is likely to take place where college football is already king. It’s a challenge just to enter that environment, an impressive one that he’s undertaking.
Most of the Hawaii and Polynesian players we see throughout college football play for teams on or close to the west coast. Manti Te’o progressed that image to what’s a little more “main stream” by attending Notre Dame. Now, Tagovailoa is going to ‘Bama. He’s not a lineman, either. He’s a quarterback. If he gets his opportunity and wins the job someday, he’ll be the face of the face of college football.
That, I can cheer for.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.