Taulia Tagovailoa will not return for senior year

Taulia Tagovailoa will be playing under head coach Mark Freeman at Thompson High in Alabaster, Ala., according to his dad, Galu Tagovailoa. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Taulia Tagovailoa will be playing under head coach Mark Freeman at Thompson High in Alabaster, Ala., according to his dad, Galu Tagovailoa. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Galu Tagovailoa has been busy.

The husband and father of four — including two daughters and two quarterbacking sons — just sold his house in Kapolei last week and is moving the family to Alabaster, Ala., as first reported by Hawaii Prep World six weeks ago.

They fly out April 3 to the state where his eldest son, Tua, is already living — on the campus of the University of Alabama.

Tua, the oldest son, is a 5-star recruit and a former Saint Louis star who is now a quarterback for the Crimson Tide. He’s been participating in spring drills, and is working alongside two other QBs, incumbent starter Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones, both sophomores.

Here’s a video from the first day of spring practice.

Galu’s younger son Taulia Tagovailoa, who played two years at quarterback for Kapolei, has enrolled at Thompson High in Alabaster. He will do spring drills there to get ready for the fall season.

Galu, the dad, said the plan is for Taulia to play his last two high school seasons there.

“His head coach is going to be Mark Freeman, who is the man behind Jameis Winston (the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner from Florida State and now the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers),” Galu Tagovailoa said. “We’ve heard a lot about him. They run the spread.”

Years ago, Winston’s dad hired Freeman to be a private mentor to his son. Freeman’s Thompson team went 5-5 a year ago.

There has been some speculation that Taulia would transfer back to Oahu as early as this fall and play at Saint Louis, where former mentor June Jones is employed but not yet part of the Crusaders’ staff under head man Cal Lee.

Galu Tagovailoa put those rumors to rest.

“It’s expensive moving to Alabama and it’s going to be expensive when we move back,” he said. “We will either move back after Taulia’s two years or we will wait until my two daughters (a seventh grader and a freshman) graduate.”

And, even if the Tagovailoas changed their minds and wanted Taulia to play at Saint Louis as early as this fall (as has been suggested in the rumor mill), he would likely have to sit out a year. A few years ago, linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia had a similar experience. He played for Kaiser as a freshman and transferred to Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas for the spring semester before enrolling at Saint Louis at the start of his sophomore year, and he was ruled ineligible for one year.

However, if the Tagovailoas changed their minds and wanted to Taulia to transfer back for his senior year, he would be eligible.

Taulia led Kapolei to its best season in school history last year as a sophomore. His 3,919 passing yards fell 66 short of the single-season record held by Saint Louis alum Timmy Chang, and he tossed 42 touchdowns and nine picks. Despite only playing two years, Taulia is seventh on Hawaii’s all-time passing list with 6,703 yards and 64 touchdowns with 21 interceptions.

Galu gave an update on Tua’s progress.

“Tua is doing awesome and working hard, having a good spring,” he said. “But at the same time, for a lot of young kids, it’s a rude awakening. This is the real world and he’s with the top kids in the country.

“But he loves the competition and he plans to compete the entire season. He’s learning under the new OC (Brian Daboll, who took the job when newly hired Steve Sarkisian left to become the Atlanta Falcons’ OC). He is learning with Jalen and Mac. They’ve become really close friends on and off the field and are very supportive of each other.

“Tua told me, ‘Everybody thinks we’re just competing, but that’s not really what it’s all about.’ There is a big brotherhood there and they’re working with each other, going against the defense. That’s coach Nick Saban’s approach and it’s about being tight and having fun. It’s not about which player is doing good. It’s the team, not one person. I love how he does things.”

Galu said all of his children will be sad about missing their friends and family in Hawaii.

“And they’ll miss the state of Hawaii, which has been so awesome in supporting the boys,” he added.

According to Galu, Tua is loving his classes so far and it’s a totally new environment for him to be around.

“He said there are so many resources there that you have to not want to go to school to fail,” the dad said.


  1. Education First March 30, 2017 7:52 am

    Give the guy some credit. He has a plan and executed it. Good Luck!

  2. PrepBowlKings March 30, 2017 9:39 am

    Sheesh, let him become an adult and enjoy the college and “being away from home” experience without mommy and daddy looking over his shoulder. Helicopter parent to the nth degree. Ask those around the StL program about this guy.

  3. Legend March 30, 2017 1:16 pm

    The next LAvar Ball.

  4. Education First March 30, 2017 4:20 pm

    LaVar Ball is a great parent. Regardless of that LaVar says or does, his 3 sons will play D1 for UCLA. His oldest will be a top 3 player picked in the upcoming draft, and his kids seem like good kids. He could teach many people a thing or two.

  5. Any Standards March 30, 2017 4:42 pm

    Doesn’t he have to “apply” to St. Louis before assuming he could enroll?

  6. 88 March 30, 2017 8:37 pm

    A great parent would make his kid finish school and earn that degree. Right Education First?

  7. Mahatma Gandhi March 30, 2017 9:42 pm

    Kudos to Galu for saying what needed to be said, that schools go to the nth degree to try to get their players to graduate. But all you hear from those who hate college football is how the programs use them and spit them out once their playing days are over.
    As far as Taulia, I’m sure St Louis alumni are already in his ear, begging him to come back to the islands and will set him up in an apartment near campus free of charge if he transfers to St Louis. St Louis is a win-at-all-costs football program. Just like Bishop Gorman.

  8. H-Man March 31, 2017 8:52 am

    The best example of helicopter parents is Michelle Wie who seems do have done quite well, graduating from Stanford and enjoying a nice career playing on the LPGA tour. There’s no one formula that fits all. The Tagavailoas are charting their own course. Good luck to them in their new adventure.

  9. turfwar March 31, 2017 9:05 am

    88 You would do the same thing. He will make more money in his first contract as a top 5 pick than most people make in a lifetime. Getting a college degree won’t give him a chance at more money or a better life. But staying in college could lead to injury which could hurt his chances later. By the way he and another son already drive $100,000 cars to school. Getting a bachelors degree is not his primary concern. The dad did a great job of marketing his brand of Ball hoops into a line of clothing, hats, etc.

  10. Education First March 31, 2017 9:40 am

    88 March 30, 2017 at 8:37 pm
    A great parent would make his kid finish school and earn that degree. Right Education First?
    I am going to assume the kid is going to school in Alabama right?

    If we are talking about Ball, the goal of education is to become smart and also to improve quality of life. But when millions stare you in the eye you take it. We are talking about less than 1% of 1% (These are not actual percentages, I am just making an example) can make this kind of money.

    Many athletes go back to college or have financial advisers educate him. There is always anomalies to the rule. My buddy didn’t graduate college. He makes more money than anyone I know. He run business that develops cities in Japan, China, Hawaii, Abu Dahbi, etc. He never went to school. His dad trained him and he learned the family business. Obviously he didn’t need school. But he’s an exception.

  11. nanakuli hawks March 31, 2017 10:30 am

    Galu and his family are not coming back. Taulia will not play for saint louis. I knew they were moving up there the minute Tua accepted the Alabama offer! no way galu leaves Taulia here without him and his wife by Taulias side. That is why Taulia Already has a Scholarship offer to Alabama. Taulia couldn’t have finished his career at Kapolei, he would have been to old.

  12. thnk1st March 31, 2017 11:33 am

    good move for the younger taulia. His father is making great choice to develop his younger son’s talent. Face folks, these son’s are very talented. I’m sure Tua and his father witness first hand the level of talent at Alabama. Father making this move is great for Taulia to play with the mainland kids to prepare him for college. Hawaii has good players, but overall size and speed is on the mainland. Good move. congrats and good luck at bama
    reg: Ball, he is no different that tiger woods father, and serena williams father. Whether you like them or not, they have millions sitting in the bank! and they are playing the game the love. I i had a son that is projected to be drafted top 3 in the NBA, he will be set for life.

  13. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate March 31, 2017 5:21 pm

    galu is integrity smart hawaiian nokaoi aloha . lavar ball is greedy only chasing money n call out nba stars barkley n jordan, lavar is evrything that wrong with american sport familys

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