Tua Tagovailoa becomes a professional.
Alabama's star quarterback announced on Monday that after Tagovailoa's hip surgery he would miss his closing season due to an injury sustained on November 16 in the season, and that he would enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
The south paw, which was predicted as a top tip in the draft for a long time before the injury, should recover completely and be hit in the first round.
Though Tagovailoa has been hit by injuries in the past two seasons – and went to zero in his first season – he became the most dominant quarterback in Alabama's history.
Before his last injury, Tagovailoa threw 2840 yards, 33 touchdowns and three interceptions, completing 71.4 percent of his passes this season.
"It was difficult for me to make this decision about my future," Tagovailoa said at a press conference. “My three years at the University of Alabama was the epitome of a roller coaster ride. I had many ups and downs and I couldn't be happier to know that with all the successes and failures I had at university, it prepared me for life in general.
"I cannot express how grateful I am that I have attended the best college school."
Just two years ago, Tagovailoa was a teenager who was unknown outside of Tuscaloosa. Then Saban pulled the real freshman off the bench halfway through the national championship game 13-0 behind Georgia and the country was introduced to a legend who led the Crimson Tide to a national championship with a 41-yard run -off touchdown Passport in overtime.
In the second year, Tagovailoa beat two-year starter Jalen Hurts for the starting job and spent months as a Heisman favorite before being replaced by Kyler Murray. After losing to Clemson in the national championship, Tagovailoa regained glory this season, but missed the team's last three games and another playoff opportunity.
"I am optimistic that I can play in the coming season," said Tagovailoa. "Taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of both sides of the situation … this is a decision I have to live with. I made it and am good with it."
Tagovailoa took the lead 22-2 as a starter, finishing 87 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a percentage of 69.3. Tagovailoa ended his career as the FBS leader in efficiency in passing. He will likely be the first quarterback under Saban to make it into the first round.
"Tua has probably had as much of an impact on our program as any other player we've ever had," said coach Nick Saban. "And I don't just speak as a soccer player."
Saban will have several options to replace Tagovailoa.
Sophomore Mac Jones ended the season as an Alabama starter, throwing for 1,503 meters, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. Tagovailoa's younger brother, Taulia, is another option, a former four-star recruit who has thrown 12 passes as a newcomer this season. Saban also landed in Bryce Young, California next season, the country's top-rated double threat.