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Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa named finalist for Heisman Trophy

Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is one of three finalists for the 2018 Heisman Trophy, it was announced Monday evening on ESPN during Monday Night Countdown.

The Crimson Tide’s starting signal caller will travel to New York for the most prestigious award in college football’s ceremony this weekend along with Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

This season, Tagovailoa has put together one of the most prolific seasons for a quarterback in Alabama football history. The Ewa Beach, Hawaii, native owns the Crimson Tide single-season passing touchdowns record with 37 through 13 games, and he heads the conference with 42 total touchdowns, 37 of which have come through the air to lead the SEC and tie for third in the nation.

Tagovailoa ranks fourth in the SEC in offensive yards at 3,543 despite not playing a majority of the second halves in the Tide’s 13 contests. The sophomore southpaw totaled 3,353 yards and 37 touchdowns through the air with only four interceptions with a 67.7 completion percentage on 199-of-294 passing, which is good for 12th nationally. Tagovailoa also ranks second nationally in passer efficiency rating at 202.3, in yards per completion at 16.9 and yards per attempt at 11.4.

Being that he is a dual-threat quarterback, Tagovailoa added 48 rushes and 190 yards with five scores on the ground and accounted for 42 total touchdowns (37 passing, 5 rushing) to rank atop the Alabama single-season touchdown responsibility list with at least one game left.

Tagovailoa seemed to be the unquestionable favorite for the Heisman entering Saturday’s SEC Championship Game, but he suffered a sprained ankle and was later stepped on, which kept him from finishing the contest against Georgia. Tagovailoa threw two interceptions and only one score while completing 10 of his 25 passes before exiting the game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (Photo: John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports)

But Alabama head coach Nick Saban went to bat for his quarterback Sunday.

“I think he’s been one of the best players in college football all year long,” Saban said on a teleconference for the Orange Bowl. “He may be the most productive for the time that he played. I do think he was affected by his ankle last night. It happened early in the game, and that may have affected his performance to some degree. I think that everybody should look at the whole body of work when they’re deciding who the best player is. But I’m always going to be for our guys.

“I think he’s done more for our team — and I haven’t even seen all these other guys play all the time, so it’s tough to make a comparison. But I sure love our guy.”

According to ESPN’s Heisman Watch, Murray has a slight edge in the race for the award after Championship Saturday. The Oklahoma quarterback is now ranked No. 1 with 46 points, while Tagovailoa is a close second with 44 points. No other player has more than 30 points. 

Alabama has had two Heisman winners in running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015). Along with the pair of winners, the Crimson Tide has now had six Heisman finalists during the Saban era in running back Trent Richardson (2011), quarterback AJ McCarron (2013), wide receiver Amari Cooper (2014) and now Tagovailoa in 2018. 

The selection is the fifth national finalist honor for Tagovailoa. He was previously announced as a finalist for the Davey O’Brien, Manning, Maxwell and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards.

The winner of the 2018 Heisman Trophy will be announced Saturday, Dec. 8 on ESPN.

Contact Charlie Potter by 247Sports’ personal messaging or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).

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