Just over a week after declaring for the National Football League Draft, Ewa Beach native Tua Tagovailoa has returned home to O’ahu as he continues to rehab from season ending hip surgery ahead of the scouting process.
The former Alabama quarterback is set to receive his second consecutive Polynesian Football College Football Player of the Year Award on Friday evening in Waikiki, as part of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement ceremony.
Tagovailoa, who is ‘confident’ with his progress having graduated from a scooter to crutches and now without assistance walking after suffering a dislocated hip and posterior wall fracture in a game against Mississippi State in November.
According to doctors following his surgery, he was expected to make a full recovery.
Prior to attending Polynesian Bowl festivies, the Saint Louis graduate sat down for a one-on-one interview with KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello, where the two discussed his collegiate legacy, pro football dreams, and what he will bring to the team that will draft him in April.
Despite, having not completed the draft process to this point, Tagovailoa’s announcement to forgo his senior season with the Crimson Tide and declare for the NFL Draft served as the start to his professional career. Signing with agent Leigh Steinberg, and starting negotiations regarding endorsements have already realized a life long dram of being a pro athlete. A signal that he hopes serves as motivation to others from his home-state.
“It’s always been a dream to be able to go to the NFL and make a lot of money, just because I’m able to change my family’s life. So, I think that should say something really big about everyone from the west side, the south side, the east side. I mean, anything is possible for these kids,” said Tagovailoa. “If someone like me can come from Ewa Beach where we don’t really know too much people that make it big out of there, that should give everyone over here in Hawaii hope that if I want to sing, I can do it. If I want to go and fight, it doesn’t always have to be someone from the west side, from Waianae or something. I mean, anyone, anywhere here on this island or on the other islands, if they have a dream, they got to work hard at it for sure but any of those things are possible to accomplish.”
Of course, the start of his pro career signifies as the end to his collegiate career. In three seasons with the Crimson Tide Tagovailoa won a National Championship, earning MVP honors of the title game. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy Award race as a sophomore, and completed his run in Tuscaloosa having thrown for over 7-thousand yards passing, with 87 touchdown passes, and just 11 interceptions in 33 career games.
Despite that, Tagovailoa says he is not content with it being the end, and did not live up to his own expectations.
“Man, I didn’t accomplish everything that o wanted to accomplish in college. There’s a lot of goals that I didn’t accomplish. I don’t think I accomplished one goal this past season. Probably due to the injury, but I think there’s always more. You can always do more. There’s not one thing in life that you can say okay this is it. There’s always more that you can do. You get someone to come in to look at a paper. They’ll tell you what they feel like you should do. There more that you can do. You feel like you’re content with your workouts, hey there’s more that you can do,” said Tagovailoa.
“Leaving all of this behind, you know it’s hard because deep down I know that I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to in college, but that’s just the game. You make business decisions in life and sometimes it’s a lot harder than it is on the flip side. It’s a decision that I made and I’m happy with it, got to live with it, and I’m going to make the best out of it.”
When asked about the game of football, and if he has grown to affection for the sport even more because he was taken away from it with the injury, Tagovailoa expressed a true love for the emotions that come with the game.
“It’s a love and hate thing, just because you hate that you can’t play when you get hurt. But, I think that on the other side of the spectrum to me, is that football is so fun. I love it, but the way i can make other people feel through playing football and then the guys in the locker room, how I’m able to interact with them, and make them feel. You make a bad play, you encourage them. They feel better about themselves, they go out and play better. To me it’s about helping others and if I can help people in that aspect, in that way with the platform that I have too, I’m more than welcomed to do it.”
Sometime between March and April, Tagovailoa is anticipated to hold a private workout for NFL teams where for the first time since the injury, he will perform before an audience. It’s expected that he will throw 60-to-80 times over the course of 40 minutes. Outside of seeing the physical traits that Tagovailoa can bring to a team, he will also be interviewed by prospective teams, and when that time comes, what is it that he wants franchises to know that they’re getting beyond a left handed quarterback that has succeeded at every level of the game?
“That’s a good question, all I can say because it’s hard for me to speak on myself you know? It’s just not something I do as much, but for any organization, I think my mindset is to come in and work hard. Do the best that I can, I think that the silliest thing is to say that I can promise them something which I can’t. I can’t promise an organization anything, but what I can tell them is that you’re going to get someone that is going to come in, work hard, have everything that I need to prepare me and set me up to be successful, and someone that is going to do their due diligence within the organization, for the organization and that’s all I can say.”
Tagovailoa, says he will enjoy the remainder of the week with family and friends before returning to Alabama to continue rehab and training. He and his family are expected to attend the NFL Draft on April 23rd in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Stay with KHON2 on-air and on-line as we will follow Tagovailoa’s path to the NFL Draft.