Legendre, Tagovailoa on Offseason, Chemistry & Scottie Montgomery
The quarterback battle in College Park between Taulia Tagovailoa and Lance Legendre has stiffened as the Terps hope to settle their quarterback questions in 2020. It’s a quarterback room that some initially expected senior quarterback Josh Jackson to win before his fall status was announced in August, paving the way for a new name at the helm. The late May addition of Tagovailoa, though, was a recruitment that the Terps benefitted from due to head coach Mike Locksley’s relationships with the Tagovailoa family during his time at Alabama. College programs across the country took note when the freshman entered his name in the transfer portal following the 2019 season, but it was connections that gave the Terps the inside track from the beginning.
“During my recruiting, I think we built a good relationship with coach Locksley. Knowing that Tua was already with coach Locks he built a good relationship with him, but coach Locksley is really close with my family and every decision that we make, I don’t make it on my own,” Tagovailoa said on Hear the Turtle on Tuesday. “We make it, it’s more of a family decision. It really came down to my family being more comfortable, my mom making sure I’m going to be in good hands with coach Locksley on and off the field.
Tagovailoa arrived in College Park back in June in the midst of quarantine as stringent protocols minimized organized practice time with his new team. Legendre had familiarity with his season in the program to help guide him into year two, but ironing out schemes, reads and formations via Zoom provided its inherent challenges.
“I think the playbook was kind of challenging I had to get used to the names and the signals, just the same type of concepts but different names to it,” Tagovailoa said. “With that, the Zoom stuff was very challenging, but I think our older guys on the team, a lot of the leaders stepped up and brought the team together.” Legendre shared similar sentiments as the student-athletes faced the normal problems that everyday working Americans have endured. “It was a lot of Zoom, it was frustrating dealing with WiFi, dealing with different types of connection problems but like I said, we found a way to get through it and each day we take it one day at a time to go over each install and get it down pat, get it to where everyone knows what they’re doing and how to do it.”
Internet problems are no longer a challenge as the team is back together as time ticks away ahead of the October 24 season-opener. Tagovailoa and Legendre spent time with their receivers leading up to fall camp to make up for lost time as they built chemistry, but the confidence in the receiver room rings true for both quarterbacks. “I think our timing and chemistry when we first came here, we tried to do whatever we can on our own but with us practicing and getting more reps with each other, I think our chemistry is getting better. From now we just have to keep working at it,” Tagovailoa added. “It’s really fun, you said our receiver core is very talented we have a lot of good guys that can take the top off and can catch, do a lot of those things and I think it’s really fun to see them compete with each other and at the same time help each other.”
Legendre is hoping to take advantage of a full season in year two as he showed flashes as a true freshman in his three games of action. The plan was for Legendre to play all four games to maximize his in-game reps while preserving his redshirt, but a season-ending injury sustained in his third game derailed those plans. Legendre has no regrets about leaving it out on the field as he takes last year’s lessons to help mitigate Maryland’s concerns at quarterback.
“I know that I have four games to play until my redshirt, so within those four games I was going to try to do whatever I could to show my worth and some of those games I got the opportunity to do that and when I got hurt…when I got in, we were on fire, driving the ball downfield. One of the plays coach called, ran the ball to the sideline, I got hit and thought it was over for me. I got hurt and I just let it be that, got off the field and got medical treatment and it was the next day. But the experience…was good coming out there as a freshman coming from high school. Obviously, the game was going fast for me, but it was the experience, hope I get another one.”
The battle between the two quarterbacks remains contested as Locksley and the staff won’t name a starter likely until game week, but what is certain is the underclassmen have cultivated a strong relationship with offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery through their brief time on campus. “We feed off his energy, there’s not a day that he doesn’t come in the room and he’s just moping around, he’s always upbeat, energetic. Like Lance said that’s something we feed off of, it kind of gets us going,” Tagovailoa added as Legendre provided another vote of confidence.
“I look at him like another father figure because coming up obviously I didn’t have my dad in my life. I was blessed with a couple father figures along the way to this point but another guy that looks like me, just taking me in slowly but surely through the whole process one step at a time. Those things over time build a bond, definitely build a bond and with that, I just go with the flow, go with the process, keep listening, keep following up, keep calling him. It’s a lot of different moments I can’t pick out one, but I will say at the end of the day, man, he’s definitely a great role model, great father figure.”
More from Legendre & Tagovailoa
Tagovailoa on last six months
"I think it’s been a challenge for everyone, our team being put on pause and coming back on and off stuff but we feel good. I think our team handled it the right way and everyone is locked in so I think we’re moreso excited and focused more on October 24."
Tagovailoa on playbook & team chemistry
"I think the playbook was kind of challenging I had to get used to the names and the signals, just the same type of concepts but different names to it. With that, the Zoom stuff was very challenging but I think our older guys on the team, a lot of the leaders stepped up and brought the team together. We put it some extra time whether it was on the field with five or six of us because…social distancing stuff or if it was sitting in the room studying the playbook. Stuff like that really helped me and also the young freshmen coming in. Meeting the new guys, that was easy. The people over here are very welcoming, very good people. I think they have a good program over here and like Lance, that’s my brother. That’s one thing we preach over here is Terps, we’re all family so if anyone comes to our team we treat them like family."
Tagovailoa on impact of family
"Family is everything. Like Lance said, family is really the backbone. Family is for me, every time I’m around family it kind of humbles me and it kind of brings me back to appreciation mode and it kind of puts me in a feel good type of mood. I think that’s my definition of family, I can just be myself around family and like Lance said, that’s who I do it for."
Tagovailoa on move from Hawaii to mainland
"It was a big culture shock, I was with my family so it really wasn’t that bad but moving to the mainland in Alabama, it was different. It’s kind of the same vibe I got from high school, very family-oriented. You have to adjust to stuff like the weather, food, how people are, you just got to watch where you’re going and stuff but other than that, pretty smooth transition."
Tagovailoa on playing high school football in Alabama
"It was a lot of fun, for sure, the pressure is always going to be there of course because of what Tua did in college at Alabama, but it was a lot of fun especially for my family. My family got to watch football the whole weekend, Friday night they’d come to my game and wake up the very next morning and go to Tua’s game so it was an experience that my family enjoyed. And because they enjoyed it, it made me and Tua love it even more. It was really good."
Legendre on last six months
"I think Lia hit it right on the nail. Been a lot of uncertainty when the season is going to start, a lot of delays off and on not really knowing what’s the real schedule, how we’re going to get back on track with everything. As a team we persevered through all these challenges that was in the way of us and I think we’re ready to roll and get back to it."
Legendre on relationship with his mom
"She’s like my backbone. Every situation that happened to me down there in New Orleans, she was a part of it as far as recruiting, me going to this school, me staying over here. I depended on her a lot and I always wanted to do something special for my mom one day just because of our situation, days where we had to go without eating or we had to sleep in the car for a couple of days and I always told myself, ‘I’m going to do something special for you one day, I just need the chance.’ She still by my side today, she never turned her back on me. it’s just tremendous like how powerful of a mom you can be. My own superhero so I’m very thankful I get to talk to her today."
Legendre on signing day
"Signing day decision did come down to Florida State and Terps. It was a tale of two but I knew I had to make the best decision for myself, it was a lot of ‘you should go here, you should go there’ but ultimately I made my own decision and like I said, I felt like the Terps were the best opportunity for me. as far as the suit, my coach kind of helped me out with that one, he knew a guy that knew a guy so he got me in that thing all fitted up and I said ‘best to dress,’ you know? And I just went with it."
Legendre on relationship with Locks during recruiting to now
"Same thing, solid relationship. He been telling me the same thing I got recruited, be ready to take over the team, the standards of a quarterback, I recruited you. Those things still go through my head, those standards, those beliefs that he has and how he wants his team run, habits and behavior, how he wants his team run is what we have to display as Terps. My relationship, like I said…been solid, same thing. We’ve been good."