The 2020 NFL Draft is just around the corner, and the list of top draft picks is short, distinguished, and filled with talent. Top names include Ohio State’s Chase Young, LSU’s Joe Burrow, and Clemson’s Isiah Simmons. But one college standout receives more buzz this draft season than all of the others combined. His name is Tua Tagovailoa.
Who is Tua Tagovailoa?
Football fans better get used to hearing the name Tagovailoa. Currently a junior at the University of Alabama, he’s posted some pretty amazing numbers. In 2017, he led the Crimson Tide to a College Football Playoff National Championship appearance and earned the offensive MVP award.
The next season, the Crimson Tide took the championship. Tagovailoa has won many honors including the 2018 Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, and 2019 Heisman runner-up. Tagovailoa proves to be a solid and inspiring force on the field, racking up an impressive 7,400 passing yards and 87 touchdowns during his college career despite a truncated final season.
He also demonstrates deep, outspoken devotion to his faith; steadfast patience; and a willingness to learn from experienced mentors. This final quality draws frequent comparisons to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes’ first year in the NFL. Entering 2019, Tagovailoa’s future looked bright.
A quarterback in recovery
Tagovailoa’s 2019 season ended prematurely, however. In November 2019, he dislocated his hip against Mississippi State. In the painful moment, he took a vicious hit when two defenders broke through the offensive line and tackled him face down into the turf. The impact broke his nose and gave him a mild concussion as well as the hip injury.
Before this, Tagovailoa was the Heisman frontrunner and in contention for the No. 1 draft pick in 2020. After the injury, his season ended early. This doesn’t mean Tagovailoa is done with football. He declared his candidacy for the 2020 draft. Depending on who you ask, analysts still consider him anywhere between the No. 5 and No. 3 pick despite his injury.
As of early March 2020, Tagovailoa has engaged in a full-on recovery effort. His doctor even cleared him for light training after his four-month check-up. In support of his recovery, the young quarterback is participating in light passing drills, according to USA Today Sports.
Performing his therapy regime, Tagovailoa weight lifts and runs short distances to train up the auxiliary muscles that support the hip joint. This encourages range of motion, blood flow, and Tagovailoa’s signature explosiveness. Although he still has a long way to go, by all professional accounts, his prognosis looks good.
The moment of truth for Tagovailoa
Tagovailoa’s recovery efforts are ongoing, but the draft waits for no man. The young star couldn’t participate in February’s pre-draft scouting combine, but fans have seen him putting in work to return to fighting shape. After his doctor cleared him for practice in early March, Tagovailoa has hit the field to take lots of practice snaps.
Because he missed the opportunity to showcase his skill and athleticism directly for every franchise scout, Tagovailoa publicly stated his intention to hold a private practice at April’s Pro Day. He might not be in peak, mid-season shape. But holding a private session during Pro Day gives Tagovailoa a chance to show interested NFL scouts he’s still a capable QB despite his injury. Make no mistake, NFL teams from Miami to Washington still express interest in the talented athlete.
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