EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh installment in a series looking ahead to the start of Alabama football fall practice. Today, we look at the quarterbacks.
Alabama’s 2019 football team is in the best position a college football team could be, returning a starter who was the Heisman Trophy runner-up, is a projected NFL first-round draft choice with a full year of starting experience in which he shattered most of the school’s single-season offensive records. Oh, he also threw the winning pass in overtime of the CFP national championship game the year before. There are other schools — Clemson and Oregon — who are also in good shape at quarterback but Alabama will be glad to take its chances with Tua Tagovailoa under center.
By the numbers, Tagovailoa completed 245 of 355 passes last season (69 percent) for 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns, only six interceptions and a 199.4 quarterback rating. He has 4,066 passing yards in his career, essentially a season and a half. He’s not likely to catch AJ McCarron (9,019) as the all-time UA passing leader, although the school record for career touchdown passes (McCarron, 77) seems well within reach as Tagovailoa is already No. 2 on that list with 54.
Mac Jones, who was the third-team quarterback behind Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts in 2018, also returns and came out of the spring as the No. 2 quarterback, although the competition will continue through August.
Alabama signed two quarterbacks in its 2019 recruiting class and both went through spring practice.
Taulia Tagovailoa, Tua’s younger brother, played at Thompson High School in Alabaster last season, throwing for 3,278 yards and 35 touchdowns. He completed 6 of 9 passes for 93 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the A-Day game.
Paul Tyson, the great-grandson of Hall of Fame coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, played at Hewitt-Trussville High School. In two seasons as the Huskies’ starter, he threw for over 6,500 yards with 69 touchdowns. He also participated in A-Day, completing 1 of 5 passes for eight yards.
Both will compete with Jones for the backup spot, a battle that will have ramifications not only for the 2019 season but 2020 as well. The new NCAA rule which allows players to compete in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility could lead to playing time for both freshmen under certain game circumstances.
Things look bright at this position barring unforeseen circumstances. Tagovailoa said at SEC Media Days in Hoover that he is “as healthy as he has ever been” heading into the season, which was a welcome assessment for Alabama fans.