The most valuable left ankle in Alabama — and the award-winning quarterback attached to it — is traveling in style this week.
Alabama is using a private plane to transport quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who underwent left ankle surgery earlier this week, during awards season so that he can continue treatment on that ankle without interruption, a member of the athletic department said.
Tagovailoa arrived at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Thursday for the Home Depot College Football Awards show with his ankle in a boot and that boot resting on a scooter.
Also in the plane is Jeff Allen, the associate athletic director for sports medicine, and the rehab equipment Tagovailoa needs for his treatment. They will fly to Teterboro, New Jersey, near New York City, on Friday morning for the Heisman Trophy weekend. Tagovailoa will curtail his participation in some activities surrounding the Heisman weekend to continue rehab under Allen’s direction.
Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, speaking at a news conference Thursday for the four College Football Playoff head coaches, said Tagovailoa might be ready to practice during the first week of the team’s preparation for its semifinal in the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma. Alabama begins practice Dec. 14.
“I think Tua is right on schedule,” Saban said. “The procedure they did usually takes two weeks for a guy to be able to have any explosive movement, and then they go from there. So we’ll see how he progresses from there. But we’re pleased with the progress that he’s made to this point.”