University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said Tuesday he was still “not too sure” about whether he would enter the NFL draft for 2020 or return to Alabama to rehabilitate from hip surgery — and possibly play football — next season.
“The deadline is between now and January 20 (when players must announce for the draft),” Tagovailoa said in an interview with The Tuscaloosa News on Tuesday. “I’m still talking with my parents about it. I’m still not too sure. A decision could come tomorrow or I could wait and decide on the 20th of January.
“Whatever God puts in my heart and my parents’ hearts, that will be the right thing.”
Tagovailoa, who suffered a hip dislocation in Alabama’s Nov. 16 game at Mississippi State and had hip surgery two days later in Houston, is finishing the semester at Alabama and will take final exams next week.
As far as his decision, Tagovailoa said he was looking “at both sides of the spectrum.”
“There is a risk and a reward if I stay and a risk and a reward if I go,” Tagovailoa said.
“The risk if I stay is obviously ‘Do I get hurt again?’ The reward is that I could come back and have another good year like my sophomore year and elevate myself back to the very top of the (NFL) draft.
“If I leave, I think the risk is a little higher. That risk would be how far do I drop in the draft. To me, it’s 50-50 between going in the first round and possibly going in the second round. If I go somewhere from first (overall) to around 24th, the money will be set. But let’s say — and I am just picking a number — that I go to the 31st pick. That would be about 9 million dollars. That’s a lot of money, an amount of money I’ve never had before, but it’s not high first-round money and you can never make that money up. They say you can (make it up) on your next contract but money lost is money lost to me.
“Those are the deciding factors. If my parents tell me that they think I should leave, that is obviously going to be a factor. But so far, they’ve told me that it’s my decision.”
Tagovailoa, who is going through a daily rehab routine, said he has no timetable for returning to the field, it said he has “no fear” of playing football again.
“I wouldn’t say I’m afraid, no,” Tagovailoa said. “I know what I signed up for when I started playing football. You go out on the field and you can’t judge what you do on whether or not you’ll get hurt.
“What happened in the Mississippi State game was a freak accident but it was a blessing too. This injury has touched more lives than me just playing football, more like a preacher preaching a great sermon. God has used it in a way that only he could portray.
“If I had been hang-dog about this situation, the fans would feel the same way. They would feed off the energy. But I’m happy. I’m OK. I’ve been given that strength. People look at that and feed off it. I’ve gotten over 11,000 letters, I think. Letters from Hawaii, Arizona, people all over the continent. They are well-wishers but that lifts their lives, too.”
Tagovailoa — who also taped a lengthy ESPN interview on Tuesday — said he does not regret the decision to play against Mississippi State as he was coming back from surgery to strengthen a high ankle sprain.
“I was still a little unsure (that morning),” he said. “The doctors had cleared me. It wasn’t a physical thing, it was more mental because I hadn’t taken a live rep in practice. I didn’t start (practicing) until Wednesday or Thursday so I didn’t get to work live against the scout team on how (MSU) would blitz, how to set protections, when to be protected. But I could move. That wasn’t the issue.
“It was up to me. Coach (Nick) Saban told me ‘we will play you if you want to play and if not, we’re not going to be mad.’ So it was really up to me and I chose to play.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt