Talk of the Tide: Nearly a Year Removed from Injury, Tua Tagovailoa Set to Make First NFL Start

Almost a year ago to the day, former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has fully healed from his devastating hip injury and will lead the Miami Dolphins against the Los Angeles Rams
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With the University of Alabama facing off against the Mississippi State Bulldogs this weekend, it will bring back a disturbing memory from a season ago for Crimson Tide fans.

Tua Tagovailoa and the devastating hip injury he suffered in Starkville. 

It was the last time he ever wore a crimson and white jersey and it was also such a sudden end to a storied career at the Capstone.

I was in the press box that day, and like many of you who were either in the stadium or watching from home, you felt the uneasiness. You felt the gut-wrenching pain on Tagovailoa's face and what was going through in his mind, already having suffered multiple ankle injuries, potentially watching his NFL draft stock fall. 

It didn't matter what the final score was. It didn't matter what the rest of the season would look like. All that mattered on that day, was that the most transcendent player in Alabama's long and illustrious history wouldn't likely play at the college level every again and that Tagovailoa's future was hanging in the balance. 

Would he be the same player that threw for 7,442 yards and 87 touchdowns in less than three full seasons? The athlete that came off the bench at halftime to lead Alabama to its 17th national championship in dazzling fashion?

He was then air-lifted to Birmingham for surgery and the road to recovery began. 

Tagovailoa's decision to go to the NFL or stay wasn't officially made until mid-January and the Hawaiian native officially declared for the draft, which as it turns out, he didn't fall far, becoming the fifth overall selection to the Miami Dolphins. 

In the meantime, Tagovailoa never lost faith in the process. The rehab, the long nights and early mornings training sessions, the virtual pro day with former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, and a pandemic which was thrown into the mix, have all been part of the journey to get him to where he is now. 

But for all the sadness that November afternoon last season caused for Alabama fans -- and it certainly caused a lot -- on Sunday when Tagovailoa makes his first NFL start for the Dolphins against the Los Angeles Rams, all that sorrow from a year ago will turn into that much joy and then some. 

It really is remarkable to think about. 

When he took that hit from those two Bulldog defenders that dislocated his hip, who would have thought that he would be starting a NFL game not even a full year later? 

I didn't think so and you probably didn't either, but you know who could see this coming from a mile away? Alabama coach Nick Saban. 

Did you happen to catch what he said about his former star player last week after Tagovailoa made his debut in mop up duty against the New York Jets?

"You know, we're always excited and happy for all of our players," Saban said. "They all have dreams of being able to play in the NFL someday and you really always happy and proud to, you know, see that dream come to fruition for them. Most guys don't have to go through what Tua went through in terms of the adversity that he had to overcome from injury standpoint, with the hip injury, but he worked hard. He's back to 100%. I'm glad to see that he's getting some opportunity to play now. And I hope that that continues and I hope he does very well. 

"We haven't had anybody in this program since I've been here that's been a better ambassador for the university, better ambassador for the program than Tua has been. So our thoughts and prayers are always with him and we hope that he does extremely well and. 

'And surely won't surprise me if that's the case.”

With 'Tua Time' officially beginning in Miami this weekend, the man who Saban deemed the best ambassador for the Crimson Tide the school has ever seen, will embark on a professional career that can hopefully outdo his college one that ended so abruptly and suddenly. 

BamaCentral's own Tyler Martin breaks it all down in this week's Talk of the Tide.