Who Is Tua Tagovailoa? Alabama Freshman Stuns Georgia in National Championship Game

Few of those outside Alabama Crimson Tide's die-hard fan base and forensic observers of college football would have heard of Tua Tagovailoa before Monday night’s National Championship game against Georgia.

Indeed, few would have heard the name of the freshman backup quarterback before he replaced Jalen Hurts at halftime with the Tide in a hole and the Bulldogs romping to a National Title that nobody expected them to win.

Tagovailoa, who was born in March 1999 while Nick Saban was still a coach at Michigan State and whose Wikipedia page is just three short paragraphs, revealed himself as an extraordinary talent on the college game’s biggest stage. He threw a left-handed bomb to Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley with the game on the line at fourth-and-four with under four minutes remaining to tie.

Then, in overtime, Tagovailoa made the play he will be remembered for even if he never plays another game as an Alabama starter. In overtime, he launched a spiral that caught an uncovered DeVonta Smith in stride for the walk-off touchdown.

His second half was more remarkable for how it had begun. Tagovailoa threw a touchdown to bring the Tide within a score, then tossed an interception to Deandre Baker. By the end, it was a footnote.

 

 

Tagovailoa, a five-star recruit born and raised in Honolulu, followed Cardale Jones of Ohio State and now the L.A. Chargers in winning a National Championship without having started a regular-season game, Buckeyes beat reporter Dan Hope noted. Hurts completed three of eight passes for 21 yards and rushed for 47 yards on six carries. By halftime, Saban realized the Tide needed an aerial attack. Alabama’s committee of running backs weren’t going to get them back into the game.

Enter Tua.

“We’ve had this in our mind that if we were struggling offensively, that we would give Tua an opportunity, even in the last game,” Saban said in quotes reported by SECCountry.com. “I couldn’t be prouder of him taking advantage of the opportunity. We have total confidence in him. We played him a lot in a lot of games this year, and he did very well.”

Alabama goes into the 2018 season as a consensus pick to win an 18th National Championship. It will almost have Tagovailoa under center when it begins another campaign next autumn, which is tough on Hurts. But no one is going to forget this performance in a hurry.