Entering the 2019 college football season, it was a mortal lock that Tua Tagovailoa was on his way out of Tuscaloosa and into the NFL at the end of his junior campaign. One moment in late November, though, left the quarterback’s football fate up in the air.
After hours and hours worth of ofttimes ominous speculation, Alabama announced in mid-November that Tagovailoa had been diagnosed with a dislocated right hip, an injury suffered in the first half of its rout of Mississippi State, and would miss the remainder of the 2019 season. While Tagovailoa was ultimately able to attend what turned out to be Bama’s stunning loss to rival Auburn late last month that knocked the Crimson Tide out of the playoffs, the true junior had not yet publicly discussed how the injury would affect his future plans, or if it even would.
In an interview this week with ESPN‘s Kirk Herbstreit, though, Tagovailoa revealed that he has yet to make a decision as to whether to return to the Crimson Tide for the 2020 season or make himself available for next year’s NFL draft. Not only that, he has no timeline for a decision to be made with a month and a half or so remaining until the deadline.
“You think of risk-reward on coming back. You think of risk-reward on leaving,” Tagovailoa told Herbstreit during the interview. “And when I look at it, I kind of look at it, if I come back, the risk is what if I get hurt again? But the reward could be maybe I jump back to the top of the charts, the boards for all these teams.”
Tagovailoa has already seen his draft stock take a dip in the eyes of mock drafters, although that has nothing to do with the feedback he’ll get from NFL draft evaluators. And it’ll be three months from the time of the operation before he can resume any type of football activity, with springtime the target date for the resumption of throwing. The conundrum Tagovailoa faces is, he could very well have to make a decision on his football future — the deadline for players to formally submit their paperwork for entry into the 2020 NFL Draft is Jan. 20 — without knowing exactly what his football future, health-wise, entails.
Regardless of when he makes what he describes as a business decision, Tagovailoa, who also underwent surgery a second time in a year for a high-ankle sprain suffered a month prior to the hip injury, will again lean heavily on his family before taking his next step.
“I still gotta talk with my family about all this, see what their input is. Now is not the time to be making emotional decisions,” Tagovailoa explained. “But now you gotta change into thinking as a businessman. You gotta make business decisions.”
For those curious, Tagovailoa did not have an insurance policy to protect against the loss of value should he drop in the draft. He does, though, have an insurance policy, taken out through the university, that would protect him should the hip injury he suffered prematurely and permanently end his playing career.