HOOVER — It wasn’t easy being an Alabama fan last season.
Seeing All-American quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sit on the turf clutching his knee or ankle every other week was enough to send the Crimson Tide faithful reaching for a paper bag to stop hyperventilation.
He underwent surgery in December to repair damage he sustained from a high ankle sprain and since the CFP national championship game, Tagovailoa has spent the bulk of his summer working to stay healthy for the fall.
What he said to the throng of media gathered at the Wynfrey Hotel on Wednesday should help curb Alabama fans’ anxiety.
“I feel healthier now than when I did when I got to Tuscaloosa,” he said. “I feel a lot better health wise.”
Despite not being 100 percent for half the 2018 season, Tagovailoa still put up record-breaking numbers and racked up a handful of postseason awards, including the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year award and All-America honors from several outlets.
The top priority for Tagovailoa this season, other than getting back to the national title game and winning, is staying healthy.
“The next step for me is getting into the training room and being able to take care of myself,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s like the analogy of a car, if you don’t get a tune-up for your car it’s not going to work the same way as when you first drove it off the lot.”
To do that, Tagovailoa and strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran made modifications for his workout regime this season. After the national title game the Heisman Trophy runner-up spent time resting his knee and ankle before getting into to full rehab mode and back into shape.
“I didn’t really have a summer,” Tagovailoa said. “I had to get back into the grind. The only way I can better myself is if I’m in better shape and healthy.”
Tagovailoa, who says he’s at 215 pounds, lost for the first time as the Crimson Tide quarterback against Clemson. While he’s not happy with how the season ended, he does appreciate what he can take away from it.
“I know this sounds bad, but I’m glad I had that opportunity to feel a loss,” he said. “What can you learn from winning? Not very much. When you lose, you appreciate things a lot more and puts things in perspective more. Many lessons were learned from that loss.”