The Dolphins got their man in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft when they selected quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, with the hope he can re-create the kind of magic he displayed at the University of Alabama.
A few of the subsequent Dolphins picks got to see Tagovailoa up close and personal over the past three years, either as a teammate or an opponent.
Second-round pick Raekwon Davis was Tagovailoa's teammate at Alabama.
“He’s a great quarterback," Davis said after being drafted by the Dolphins on Friday night. "All three years he’s been at Alabama, he’s been a big leader for our team, and he did a good job and he played a big role for our team. He made sure he uplifted everybody when times were down and when games were hard, he kept everybody going.”
Davis' best statistical season at Alabama came in 2017 when he finished with eight sacks.
That also was the season that ended with the Crimson Tide rallying to defeat the University of Georgia in the BCS title game after Tagovailoa replaced Jalen Hurts at quarterback at halftime and ended things in overtime with a title-winning 41-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Smith on a second-and-26.
“It was just he gave everybody just an energy," Davis said. "He gave everybody hope and he told everybody that the game wasn’t over and that we’ve got to take over and just finish the job.”
Guard Solomon Kindley was on the losing side of that memorable performance as a sophomore for the Georgia Bulldogs.
“Everybody knows what he did in that game," Kindley said. "He was tremendous. I hear about some other offensive linemen at the Combine – other offensive linemen that I know – I hear that he’s a tremendous person. I hear that he works very hard, all that type of stuff. He’s a very good player and everything that everybody has told me, it shows on the field. I can already tell the type of personality he’s got and the type of person the he is in the locker room, so I’m just blessed for the opportunity to play with him.”
Now, of course, Kindley will be competing for the chance to protect Tagovailoa whenever both of them can crack the lineup.
"I’m going to do whatever I can to protect him and help him," Kindley said. "I’m ready to work with him. He’s a great quarterback and I’m ready to work with him.”
Dolphins first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene faced Tagovailoa in 2018 and was on the losing end of a 52-21 rout.
And sixth-round pick Blake Ferguson faced Tua twice during his four years at LSU. Alabama won 29-0 at LSU in 2018 before LSU won 46-41 at Tuscaloosa last November on its way to the national title.
Tagovailoa passed for 418 yards and four touchdowns in that game, which marked his return to the lineup following an ankle injury.
“That game is one that we mark on our calendars every year," Ferguson said. "It’s no secret that LSU-Alabama is one of the most highly competitive games in all of football, and so that’s one that I look forward to every year. I grew up with half of my family being Alabama fans, so that’s one that I’ll be able to look back on this past season and I’ll certainly talk some trash to Tua as well."
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins full time since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @apoupartFins.