Tua Tagovailoa was in a familiar place on Saturday — the Saint Louis School practice field — for a group speed and quickness session with trainer Kenny Patton.
The Crusaders quarterback is preparing for his senior year and beyond, and he’s back in town after unofficial trips to three Southeastern Conference schools.
Tagovailoa opened up about his recent experience.
“First and foremost, all glory goes to God,” he said. “I’d just like to thank God for the many blessings that I have in my life. The Southeast was really good. it was more than I expected. You go over there expecting it to be strictly business, but if you really look at it, the Southeast has deep history. A lot of them go to church. A lot of kids go to church. A lot of the kids are very well-rounded kids, well-mannered, well-respected.”
Tagovailoa went to national champion Alabama first, followed by Ole Miss and Auburn.
“Three very good programs run under three very good coaches,” Tagovailoa continued, “but first off Alabama was really good. A lot of memories. The greatest one (memory) that sticks out to me is the first time I met coach Nick Saban. He’s like a celebrity there. I believe it’s God, then there’s coach Nick and then there’s the Alabama football team and then maybe the mayor or the governor. That’s how high the people look at him and people respect him. Being able to meet him, sitting down in his office talking to him, with my parents as well, was really good. Not too many kids get that opportunity and I was very blessed.
“Going to Ole Miss, coach Hugh Freeze, he’s a very, very humble guy. A man of God. One thing that sticks out to me when I went up there and took my unofficial with Ole Miss was coach Hugh talking about being an uncommon person in a common world. That means just to be different. That speaks a lot to me. Auburn was the same. I got to meet coach Gus Malzahn and he was a very unique person. He was explaining all his pictures. His favorite picture was when Auburn returned that (missed field goal 109 yards) for a touchdown to beat Alabama (as time ran out in 2013). The picture shows everybody, all the fans jumping on the field after the game.
“Three great programs.”
Tagovailoa, the senior-to-be, has 19 Division I FBS offers, and he thinks he will be making his decision before the season starts so he can concentrate on giving his full attention to the Crusaders and head coach Cal Lee. Saint Louis lost to Kahuku in last season’s Division I state championship game.
“I will most likely try to make a commitment before the season,” he said. “I feel like it will make it easier. If one team has been looking at you and I don’t pick them, it gives them an opportunity to recruit other quarterbacks. You don’t want to break any relationships by committing so late.
“Just gotta sit down with family — mom, dad, grandma, siblings — and talk about it. It’s going to come down to it and I’m just going to have to make a decision. I’m going to pray on it and I know God’s going to follow through.”
Galu Tagovailoa, Tua’s dad, talked about the friendly people the Tagovailoas met at all three campuses.
“The trip was amazing,” Galu said. “It’s nice to see that part of the country. Southern hospitality is great. It’s VERY friendly from what we’ve seen and what we’ve been around. There’s churches around campus they have available for kids that are looking for that. We thought it was just going to be Alabama like that. Then we drove up to Mississippi, and people were just the same. Auburn side, they were great. The highlight of the trip was how the people were. They treat you like local people. That was amazing. If he decides to go to any of those schools, it will make it that much easier for us to know that it will be a good place for him.”
Galu Tagovailoa believes his son will make a college decision by June at the latest and it could be earlier. Official visits are planned for five of the eight schools that are Tua’s known finalists, but he didn’t say which schools and when.
On March 15, Tagovailoa listed his final eight college possibilities on Twitter. In alphabetical order, they are Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Mississippi,Texas A&M, UCLA, USC and Washington. It appears Auburn has been added to that list within the last month.
“It’s been such a blessing from our heavenly Father for him and the family and for what he’s going through as a 17-year-old kid,” Galu said. “I know it’s going to be hard for him to say no to a lot of these places, big schools great people, too. At the end of the day, there’s only one Tua and he only has to make one decision on what school he needs to go to. He’ll pick the school that is going to best prep him for the next level and gives him the best education he can get that falls in his major.”
Tagovailoa wants to major in communications. He’s been working out with Patton on speed and quickness and with Kimo Luna in the gym.
SECCountry.com’s Chris Kirschner predicted Tagovailoa will pick Alabama. You can read that story here: http://sec.news/1TgCbyP.
“We have talked about a lot of those things, even if he was staying on the West Coast,” Galu Tagovailoa told Kirschner. “I have kind of looked at some jobs on the West Coast in my field. We also needed to consider that we needed to look at jobs in Mobile or in that area. That was one of the biggest reasons why we took this trip as a family. When it comes down to making a decision like this, it’s a family decision.”