Thompson quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa committed to Alabama on A-Day, but made fans nervous with a summer visit to Tennessee and a fall visit to LSU.
Tagovailoa never publicly wavered on his commitment and signed with the Crimson Tide today, with plans to report in January and hit the practice field this spring with his brother, Heisman Trophy runner-up Tua Tagovailoa.
“I liked, I loved LSU,” Tagovailoa said. “We just felt like this was the best decision for me and my family to stay here and go to school at Alabama.”
Taulia is one of two early-enrollee quarterbacks for the Crimson Tide, with Hewitt-Trussville’s Paul Tyson already on campus and participating in bowl practices.
A 4-star prospect, Taulia threw for 3,728 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior and led Thompson to a runner-up finish in Class 7A. He suffered a shoulder injury in the semifinal victory over Hoover and was held to a career-low 44 passing yards in a 52-7 loss to Central-Phenix City in the championship game.
The injury kept him out of the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, but he said nothing of the injury in today’s interviews at Thompson’s signing day ceremony. He is joined in Alabama’s Class of 2017 by left tackle Amari Kight, the lineman who has protected his blind side for the last two seasons.
Once on the Alabama practice field, it will the first time for Tua and Taulia to both play quarterback. They played at separate high schools in Hawaii, and Taulia played center and snapped to Tua when they played in youth leagues.
Taulia arrived at Thompson before the 2017 season when the Tagovailoa family relocated from Hawaii when Tua enrolled at Alabama.
“He’s a big influence on my decision, as well as my family,” Taulia said, when asked about his brother. “I know he’s excited for me to come there, and I’m excited as well. It’s going to be fun. I mean, it’s a blessing to know we get to spend time together.”
Taulia also noted his comfort level with Alabama.
“I feel comfortable (that) even if my brother wasn’t there, I’d still want to go there,” Taulia said.
Taulia also showcased the playful side of his personality today, joking the Orange Bowl will be a 100-to-100 tie when he was asked to make a prediction about Alabama’s College Football Playoff semifinal game against Oklahoma.
He also joked “it’s always good to be on the same team with the bully, not on the other side” when asked about the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Kight.
Turning serious, Taulia also said he understands the commitment level required at Alabama.
“I know it’s going mature me a lot and humble me for sure,” he said, “but I’m willing to go through all that. God couldn’t bless me with a better person to go it with than my brother.”
Taulia ended his interview with local TV reporters with a line sure to resonate with Alabama fans after being asked about the prospect of playing for Nick Saban.
“He’s the GOAT,” he said, “so I’m happy to play under him.”