When Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin are turning their heads to see Saint Louis quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, it certainly means something.
The two high-ranking members of the national champion Crimson Tide brass are the latest to give Tagovailoa, the senior-to-be Crusaders quarterback, just one more choice of schools to pick from for his scholarship.
Before we get into just how it came to pass that Alabama came calling, let’s first start with something Tua’s mom, Diane Tagovailoa, said to Hawaii Prep World over the phone Tuesday, to keep us all in check:
“He did great (at the recent Las Vegas 7-on-7 tournament), but there’s always room for improvement. He could have avoided the blitz better, I feel.”
The way Galu Tagovailoa — Tua’s dad — tells it, former Moanalua coach Arnold Martinez had some influence in the scenario that led to the offer.
Ever hear the story about: “It comes down to who you know.”
Well, Martinez knows Tosh Lupoi, the Crimson Tide’s outside linebackers coach, who called Crusaders offensive coordinator Ron Lee to see how the communication process could continue. By college rule, at this time of year, players can talk to prospective coaches, but only if the player or a family member initiates the contact.
So, Galu Tagovailoa called Lupoi via cellphone.
“He was telling me how Nick Saban wants him badly and that he’s No. 1 on their chart,” Galu said. “I really didn’t believe him at first and thought he was pulling my leg, so he put Lane Kiffin (the Alabama offensive coordinator) on the phone.”
And this is Galu’s account of his conversation with Kiffin: “He said, ‘We’ve been watching his highlights and we can’t believe it. Has he played any other position other than quarterback?’ I told him no and he said, ‘We can tell by his release point and the way he drops back that he’s been playing the position his whole life. I’ve never seen anything like that. We usually don’t offer kids from this far away because we don’t know if they’re going to have that commitment. Are you (the Tagovailoa family) interested?
“I said, ‘Yeah, who wouldn’t?’ National champion. Kiffin said he thought Tua would be ready to go in and start right now. I was blown away.”
So, Hawaii to Alabama for Tua? Will he roam? Or will he stay closer to home? He has 16 other Division I FBS offers, including big-name schools such as USC, Texas A&M and UCLA.
Colleges are also starting in on the sweepstakes for Tagovailoa’s brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, who will be a sophomore quarterback at Kapolei in the fall under new offensive coordinator June Jones. According to Galu, there are no offers yet, but Washington, Washington State, UCLA and USC have shown interest.
Farrington’s Challen Faamatau, Punahou’s Ethan Takeyama and Cole Arceneaux, and Saint Louis’ Leelan Oasay were on the receiving end of Tua’s passes in Las Vegas.
“They made some phenomenal catches,” said Diane Tagovailoa, who went on the trip to Nevada. “And Tua spread the ball around nicely.”