Cue Nick Saban’s favorite term, “rat poison.”
National media will never get over Saban’s decision of switching to Tua Tagovailoa in the second half of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, but more so than that they’ll never get over the Hawaiian native’s performance – especially the 2nd and 26 play in overtime.
In one half of meaningful football, Tagovailoa has gone from intriguing backup and national championship savior to the popular vote on who should start at quarterback for the University of Alabama next season.
He completed 49 passes for 636 yards with 11 touchdowns as a freshman, however, everyone remembers his 14 of 24 effort for 166 yards and three scores versus Georgia.
As we enter a long offseason, two media outlets have pegged the five-star as one of the top signal-callers in college football going into the coming fall. On Tuesday, Athlon Sports released an article ranking the 14 best quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference for 2018.
Despite the experience and big-play abilities of Drew Lock (Missouri), Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State), Jake Fromm (Georgia) and Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), the publication placed Tagovailoa ahead of all four guys as the top-ranked quarterback in the conference.
Granted, he has to beat out third-year player Jalen Hurts but Tagovailoa’s overall potential has Crimson Tide fans excited for what’s to come. Joining Athlon Sports was Bill Bender of Sporting News, as he released his Top-25 quarterbacks in all of college football for 2018 on Thursday.
Tagovailoa fell second on Bender’s list, behind Trace McSorley of Penn State.
With its strength of schedule not being difficult, Saban will have to find different ways to motivate his team and prevent complacency. As the most valuable player from the national title game, maybe Tagovailoa has the mental capacity to not give attention to media clippings.
But whether he does or not, the sports world sees his talent and expects a lot next fall.