Taulia Tagovailoa got a little emotional when new Hawaii football head coach Nick Rolovich made him a scholarship offer on Thursday.
According to his father, Galu Tagovailoa, Taulia — who will be a sophomore quarterback at Kapolei in the fall — started to cry a little bit.
“Rolo asked him, ‘Are you crying?’ ” Galu Tagovailoa said. “Taulia said, ‘Ahh … no.’ It was funny and at the same time it was special.”
During a phone interview Friday, Galu Tavovailoa, who was the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator last season but who plans to be in the stands to watch his two sons in the fall, couldn’t impress enough on Hawaii Prep World just how special the offer from Hawaii was to Taulia and the whole Tagovailoa family.
The family, including mother Diane Tagovailoa, brother Tua Tagovailoa — who has 17 scholarship offers including one from Rolovich — and nephews Isaac Slade-Matautia and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa made the unofficial visit Thursday to the Hawaii campus.
“We wanted to come and check it out,” Galu said. “We went out of respect for Rolo and his coaching staff. He is awesome and he has an awesome coaching staff. I was impressed with how professional they were. Sometimes when you make visits, it’s a pitch. Rolo is so up front and honest with you, so respectful. It’s a people type of staff.”
Slade-Matautia, the Saint Louis senior-to-be linebacker, has eight scholarship offers, including one from Hawaii. Slade-Matautia’s dad, Norman Slade-Matautia, is Galu’s cousin.
Tagovailoa-Amosa, the Kapolei senior-to-be defensive end who has offers from Hawaii and Vanderbilt, is the son of Galu’s sister Saiteti Amosa. Saiteti is married to Tuli Amosa, who is the brother of Campbell football head coach Amosa Amosa.
Taulia Tagovailoa began to make a name for himself last season as a freshman starter. This coming season, he will be under the tutelage of former Hawaii and NFL head coach June Jones, who signed on as the OC with the Hurricanes recently.
“Rolo asked Taulia if other colleges have talked to him,” Galu said. “Taulia said other schools have been talking to him, but that he hasn’t been offered. Rolo said, ‘Let me be the first.’ He wanted to do it in person and he wanted Taulia to know that it wasn’t because of his brother (a prized quarterback recruit nationally) and that he was doing it because Taulia deserved it. He told Taulia that he’s watched his film and that he watched his release and that it blew him away. He said he knew that Taulia doesn’t want to be known as just Tua’s brother, and it’s true, he doesn’t.
“Tua was really happy for his brother and he also wants Taulia to make his own name. Tua thanked Rolo, and Rolo said, ‘Man you don’t have to thank me.’ But that’s the way Tua is. He wanted to Rolo to know that he really appreciated it.”
UH assistant Craig Stutzmann was the initial point of contact with the Tagovailoa family, leading to the campus visit by the four athletes.