TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was once again inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Only this time, it wasn't for a Crimson Tide football game.
Tagovailoa returned to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday to host the 'Luau with Tua' charity event benefitting the Boys & Girls Club of West Alabama as well as the Nick's Kids Foundation. While he was there, he discussed the importance of having the event back on his old college stomping grounds.
“I think it was important to have it here because this is kind of a stepping stone that I took to get to where I’m at now," Tagovailoa said. "The biggest thing that I can say is that I wanted to give back, and this is one way I know of giving back.”
A lot has changed since the last time Tagovailoa was in Bryant-Denny Stadium. After being drafted No. 5 overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tagovailoa experienced his first professional football season. While he didn't initially start, Tagovailoa ultimately started nine games and compiled 11 passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns.
Tagovailoa briefly discussed his personal journey since that time.
“It’s been a journey, but I think it’s been a really good journey," Tagovailoa said. "It’s been a pretty impactful journey in my life, I’d say. I’m just really glad to be back and excited to give back to the communities and see what we can do tonight. I’m glad my family gets to be here to support this event with me."
After Tagovailoa's departure, Alabama football had one of its best offensive seasons in program history. With Mac Jones replacing Tagovailoa at quarterback along with multiple rushing and receiving threats and arguably the best offensive line unit to ever step foot inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Crimson Tide's accolades in 2020 were quite something to behold.
Jones joined Tagovailoa in the NFL and sophomore Bryce Young is the up-and-coming starter for the Crimson Tide. When Young was still in high school, and even during his freshman season on the bench, fans and media alike have both remarked on how Young's game is in many ways similar to Tagovailoa's.
That being said, Tagovailoa doesn't see the overlap between himself and Young.
“I wouldn’t say I see similarities between my game and his game," Tagovailoa said. "I think he’s really instinctive. He can extend plays really well. He has a really good arm, and he’s very talented. But I wasn’t a runner like him. He can run.”
At the 2021 A-Day Game, Young completed 25 of 44 passes for 333 yards and a touchdown. While the numbers weren't exactly awe-inspiring, Tagovailoa believes that Young is the man for the job in Tuscaloosa.
“I did get to see a little bit of the [A-Day Game]," Tagovailoa said. "I think he’s doing pretty good. It’s always hard to tell because this is really his first year really taking over. But just stay calm, do what you did in high school, and you should be fine.”
With Young having Tagovailoa's stamp of approval, the Alabama fans whose minds have doubts should no doubt be put at ease for the time being.