Confronted with the thought of his ideal scenario entering the NFL, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa referred to playing for the team he grew up rooting for.
"If you're saying to me, if I can choose what team I want to play on, as far as my favorite team growing up, then I probably tell you the Cowboys," Tagovailoa told NFL Network's Steve Wyche in an exclusive interview.
Of course, that would eventually cause a stir considering the Dallas Cowboys seemingly have their franchise quarterback in Dak Prescott, but within Tagovailoa's answer, which was framed around the question of what team's system he thought he'd fit in best, one can find the QB prospect's mindset heading into the 2020 NFL Draft as he recovers from a major injury.
"I'm not trying to bump him -- I'll learn under him," Tagovailoa said about Prescott and the Cowboys. "I'd handle it the way that the coaches there want to handle it. Honestly, I just want to be able play again. I wouldn't mind learning under whatever guy that's the starter. Give me a whole year to rest up and then go back out and compete, but I just want to go back out and play."
A year ago Tagovailoa was under a much different set of circumstances that may not have even solicited such a question. The University of Alabama QB had just led the Crimson Tide to their second consecutive National Championship Game and was the consensus No. 1 overall pick headed into his junior season. Everything changed on Nov. 16 in Starkville, Mississippi when Tagovailoa suffered a devastating dislocated hip injury (which included a posterior wall fracture of the hip, a broken nose and a concussion) that not only ended his season, but spoiled his immediate status as a highly touted NFL prospect.
Tagovailoa, 21, could've remained in school to physically recover and earn a diploma, but he decided to forgo his senior year and enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
"I guess the biggest thing that factored into all of that was my parents," he explained to Wyche. "Coming from a Somoan background, our parents are everything to us. When they make big decisions, little decisions they go and seek guidance from their own parents. That's my heart too.
"Looking at the business side of it, if you end up getting hurt again, God Forbid any of that, you're still getting paid for it. I feel like the decision that I made was right for not just me, but everyone that was behind it."
A native of Hawaii, Tagovailoa noted his father being a major influence on his playing career. After all, it was Galu Tagovailoa who had Tua playing against high school competition around the time he was in fourth grade, citing the need for his son to play against better competition. Not to mention, Tua, a natural right-hander, was taught by his Dad at a very young age to throw with his left hand.
"Yeah this is probably the toughest challenge," Tagovailoa said about his recovery. "Because you want to do so much, but you know you cant because you have to let the hip heal. I feel really good but, at the same time, still want to be cautious, you know, with what the doctors have said. So I have been sitting down and throwing. Just kind of keeping the motion and working my rotator cuff. Not getting too rusty."
Whether or not he ends up in his dream scenario, Tagovailoa will be getting the call come April. When and where that happens remains to be seen, but for a young man that has already gone through plenty, Tagovailoa is preparing himself for anything.
"We've looked at teams, we've talked about teams, we've talked to teams," Tagovailoa said. "Somebody might trade up and you could possibly drop or you could possibly go higher. We've been talking about all those scenarios."