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Tua Tagovailoa graces cover of Sports Illustrated heading into CFP

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Alabama returns to practice today in preparation for a College Football Playoff semifinal with Oklahoma and before he takes the field, Tua Tagovailoa has snagged a cover of Sports Illustrated. 

The accomplished sophomore quarterback turned in an impressive season as a first-year starter, becoming the fourth signal-caller of the Nick Saban era to account for 3,000 yards passing (3,353) as he also totals 37 touchdown passes to four interceptions through 13 games. 

Tagovailoa guided the Crimson Tide’s offense to 50-plus points in eight matchups, while being responsible for two 60-point games versus Mississippi and Arkansas. He has 42 total scores this season, which is a school record and his 48 scoring passes (career) is tied for second all-time in history. 

For the native Hawaiian, he has reinvented the style of Tide football and earning a multitude of accolades along the way. Tagovailoa was recognized as the Southeastern Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year, Maxwell Player of the Year, Walter Camp Foundation Player of the Year, Sporting News Player of the Year and Polynesian College Player of the Year.  

RELATED: Tua Tagovailoa wins Polynesian College Player of the Year award

He is a consensus All-American and a Heisman finalist, following his exploits during the regular season.

Despite sustaining an ankle injury in the SEC title game and playing through pain all year, the team doctors at Alabama cleared Tagovailoa to not have the walking boot on his left leg at the Heisman Trophy presentation.

Since his surgery was not as severe as Jalen Hurts’ was, the former five-star is expected to recover faster and start the contest versus the Sooners on Dec. 29. 

He looks to help the Tide repeat as national champs for the first time since 2011-12.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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