When Tua Tagovailoa learned of his first scholarship offer from UCLA, the sophomore quarterback was in shock. He knew he was playing at a high level, but didn't know he was so close to landing a big time offer. Tua's mother explained the excitement for Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis prospect.
"Tua has trained and worked really hard this off-season, but he was shocked when the he learned of the offer from UCLA," Diane Tagovailoa told me. "He has been committed to church, school, and football. He is a hard worker and this has been his dream. UCLA is a great school, and it is a huge blessing that they believed in our son enough to offer him."
Many believe that Tagovailoa is bound to follow in the footsteps of another Saint Louis QB, Marcus Mariota. While Mariota has been a mentor for the young gunslinger, that is just speculation.
"Marcus has done a lot to help Tua and is a role model for my son, but the talk of him dreaming to go to Oregon because of him, is just speculation," Tagovailoa claimed. "People are really excited about the offer and Tua's strong play this year. They are automatically linking him to Marcus and Oregon. Tua is open to anyone. He is really excited about UCLA. We love the Pac-12 and would love to have him stay on the West Coast, but honestly Tua is open to anyone that wants him."
While schools can't directly contact Tagovailoa, his coach is hearing from a handful of Pac-12 programs.
"Coach Lee has heard from Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, and obviously UCLA, pertaining to Tua," Tagovailoa said. "Tua is interested in all of those schools, but UCLA is standing out because they had the faith in him to offer so early."
Tagovailoa is a dual-threat quarterback, about 6-1 as a sophomore, with the ability to win games with his arm and his legs. He has displayed a lot of accuracy on even the toughest throws. He plans to come to the mainland to compete against some of the nation's best this summer, hoping to prove he can play against any level of competition.
"Tua is hoping to get to a few camps on the West Coast this summer," Tagovailoa explained. "We know that the island has good competition, but it will be helpful to get out this summer and compete against some of the guys on the mainland. You have to compete against the best to get better."
Tagovailoa has vowed to himself, his family, and church to stay humble and hungry, despite landing his first offer.
"There is no doubt there is a lot of excitement and hype around landing the offer from UCLA, but Tua will remain Tua," Tagovailoa claimed. "With our Christian values, humility is important. Tua is just focused on church, family, football, and school work. He knows there is a lot of work to do between now and 2017."
Tua Tagovailoa landed his first offfer this week, but he will realistically have many offers by the time 2017 rolls around. He is just beginning to scratch the surface of his ability.