Tua Tagovailoa knows what’s happening around him, and that knowledge won’t make the next few weeks easier.
“This is probably going to be the biggest decision of my life,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s just a really, really big decision and everybody wants to know, and that makes it even bigger, I’d say.”
Tagovailoa spoke to media Thursday afternoon, his first group media session since suffering his first injury of the season to his ankle. Tagovailoa since played in the LSU game and suffered his season-ending hip injury, watching UA’s 48-45 Iron Bowl loss from the sidelines. Tagovailoa remains a highly touted NFL Draft prospect by some despite the injury, but some will devalue his stock in the aftermath of the brutal hip injury. Tagovailoa shed some light on that process in his press conference.
“This is where I seek advice from what I believe and and where I seek advice from my parents, but truly, at the end of the day, the decision comes down to me,” Tagovailoa said.
As Tagovailoa said in his exclusive interview with The Tuscaloosa News on Tuesday, he has no timetable for his decision. The deadline is Jan. 20.
Tagovailoa said he did his first physical therapy session Wednesday in Birmingham and the trainers were impressed with how much movement he could generate against resistance.
Tagovailoa’s memory of the hip injury is a little hazy: he said he had a concussion, as well.
“I think my body was in such a traumatic state, I couldn’t feel too much,” Tagovailoa said. “With every little movement I made on the ground, I was hurting. That’s all I could remember.”
The result forced Tagovailoa to watch the Iron Bowl from the sideline. Tagovailoa said he did not attend practice that week, both to tend to his own affairs and since he could do little to nothing on the practice field, but he was pleased with the effort.
“It’s tough, watching your guys play and not being able to do anything to help them,” Tagovailoa said. “I think Mac Jones did a tremendous job. He fought through adversity and that was the biggest question for everyone.”
Tagovailoa said he wants to play in 2020, be it at Alabama or in the NFL, but he also realizes this injury has more reason for caution than his previous ones.
“I want to play anytime. I’ve played hurt many times over the course of two years that I’ve been the starter here, but I’d like to say this is a totally different situation,” he said. “This is a unique situation: this isn’t something that I can rush. It’s something I need to take into consideration.”
Tagovailoa also said it would be, “tough to pass up,” a guarantee of being a top 15 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but, “there’s a lot more to it than that, in some aspects.”
If Tagovailoa does exit UA this spring, he will exit having felt global support from the UA community and the world at large after his hip injury.
“It’s been awesome. It’s been people from all over the world that have sent us letters: people from London, Singapore, people from Australia and New Zealand, all the way to Hawaii and some letters from Japan,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s not just fans that are watching us play football, but I guess everyone outside of the SEC. I’ve had a lot of head coaches of the teams we’ve played wishing us well.”