We’re just one day away from finding out if Hawaii will claim another Heisman Trophy winner. Tua Tagovailoa is one of three finalists for the prestigious award, alongside Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins.
If he wins, Tagovailoa will become the second from Hawaii to be named a Heisman Trophy winner, following Marcus Mariota, who won the trophy in 2014.
KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello is in New York City and snagged an exclusive one-on-one with the Saint Louis graduate.
DeMello: When you think about the journey from Ewa Beach to Kalaepohaku to Alabama and now to New York City, how magical of a ride has this been?
Tagovailoa: It’s been a very magical ride. I was fortunate enough to have won a state championship coming out of high school. It was a great way that I thought I could start my college career. Then I was fortunate enough to win a national championship as well. So I think everything that I’d been growing up and dreaming of has been coming into pass and been coming into fruition, and I think it’s just testament to the hard work that my parents have been putting in and have instilled in me within my coaches growing up.
DeMello: When you think about you being the fourth from Hawaii to be experiencing this, as far as Colt Brennan, Manti Teo, Marcus Mariota, to be the latest and to be the next one to carry on that legacy and that tradition, what does that mean to you?
Tagovailoa: It means a lot, you know? I have an opportunity on this platform to represent Hawaii in a very respectful manner, and Marcus did the same. Manti did the same as well. You just have guys that you can look up to who have paved the way for guys like me to hopefully keep the tradition going with this.
DeMello: When you start to think about the journey of just over the last year, at this time last year you weren’t a starter. Then you think about the hand, the ankle, the knee, the hamstring, everything you had to go through. How much grit did that take to reach this point and where does that grit come from?
Tagovailoa: It’s definitely taken a lot of grit. Like you said in the spring, we had my hand to deal with. We’ve been good so far, up until the Arkansas game, my knee, and then this past game against Georgia, my ankle. So it’s definitely been hard. It’s been rough, but I feel like I’ve gone through this in high school as well – got banged up when we played good teams like Punahou and Kamehameha. I mean, it’s the same everywhere you go. Football is football. You’re going to have to expect to get hurt. You’re going to have to expect things you usually don’t expect to happen, but it’s how you deal with it and how you come through while you’re going through adversity.
DeMello: Lastly, what will it mean to you to hear your name called as the 84th Heisman Trophy winner?
Tagovailoa: It’d be an honor. I’ve dreamt of coming to something like this. Now that I’m a finalist, if they called my name, I’d be very honored. I mean, it’s a blessing for a kid like me to come from Hawaii and watch someone like Marcus be able to do what he did and win the Heisman. I’m hopeful I can follow those same footsteps.
DeMello: You’ve got an entire state behind you, Tua. Best of luck. Thanks again for being so gracious with your time.
You can watch the 84th Heisman Trophy ceremony starting at 3 p.m. HST on ESPN.