Alabama's star quarterback is moving on.
Tua Tagovailoa declared his intent to enter the 2020 NFL Draft during a press conference Monday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Tagovailoa was on a direct path to being a top-three pick in the upcoming draft before suffering a significant hip injury that included a dislocation and a broken back wall of the hip socket in Alabama's ninth game of the 2019 season. As the football world feared the worst for the college star, Tagovailoa flew to Houston to undergo successful surgery and has been on a path to the pros ever since.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported in December Tagovailoa is still expected to be a first-round pick, even after suffering the hip injury, according to five NFL executives polled on the quarterback's draft stock.
Per Rapoport, one reason why Tagovailoa declared for the draft is due to his positive medical tests. The QB will undergo more tests at 12 and 16 weeks, as well.
Tagovailoa would not say if he would be physically able to hold a pro day before the draft, leaving that decision up to his doctors.
"I don't think any of the doctors can tell the future ... from what (doctors) saw in New York, everything looks good," Tagovailoa told reporters Monday. "But you don't really know until the three- or four-month mark."
Tagovailoa's 2018 season propelled him into the highest consideration among NFL evaluators, thanks to his 43-6 TD-INT ratio and 3,966 passing yards, good enough to win him the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year honors. He was on track to do the same, if not more in 2019 before the injury, completing 71.4 percent of his passes for 2,840 yards and a 33-3 TD-INT ratio in just nine games.
He leaves Alabama with over 7,000 passing yards and an 88-11 TD-INT ratio in less than three full seasons. He also left an indelible mark on his usually steeled head coach Nick Saban.
"Tua has probably had as much of an impact on our program here as any player we've ever had," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "There's a spirit about him that has impacted myself and everyone around him in a very positive way."
Tagovailoa's name will surely fill hours of airtime in the coming months as we approach the pre-draft process. If he can make a full recovery from his injury, you should get used to hearing it.
Tagvailoa wasn't the only Alabama star to officially begin his journey to the NFL as Crimson Tide wide receiver Henry Ruggs III announced his intent to enter the 2020 NFL Draft on Monday with a post on Instagram.
Ruggs posted his second straight season of 700-plus receiving yards in 2019, adding in seven touchdowns to finish his Alabama career with 24 trips to the end zone. Ruggs has also shown an ability to return kicks, fielding 25 kicks for 525 yards in 2017 and 2019 combined.
He leaves Alabama with 1,716 receiving yards on 98 receptions and joins fellow Tide star wideout Jerry Jeudy in a loaded draft class at the position. It's likely both end up being selected on the first night of the draft.