Honolulu (Hawaii) St. Louis School four-star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa assumed the recruiting process would let up once he committed to Alabama earlier this month.
After being committed for three weeks, Tagovailoa has learned that the recruiting process doesn’t end until signing day.
“My train of thought was, ‘If I commit early, not too many schools will still come after me,.’” said Tagovailoa. “It’s actually been more chaotic now than it was before I committed to Alabama.”
Of course, Tagovailoa takes some ownership for that. While he committed to the Tide, he is also adamant about taking all five of his allotted official visits.
“With recruiting, I’m still trying to enjoy the process,” said Tagovailoa. “I’m still committed to the University of Alabama, but USC, UCLA… there are a variety of Pac-12 schools who have stayed in contact with me.
“Coaches are still trying to push to get me to go their schools, and I am still going to take all five of my official visits. A kid from Hawaii doesn’t get an opportunity like this very often.”
USC has been one of several schools to visit the island more than once to see Tagovailoa this spring. USC assistant coach Johnny Nansen is Tagovailoa’s lead recruiter for the Trojans.
“In Southern California, I have a lot of family,” said Tagovailoa. “Coach Nansen’s big thing is, ‘Why would you go all the way to Alabama when your family is all out here.’
“Southern California is like Hawaii because my family is all there, so it wouldn’t feel like I’m away. It would feel more like home. He hasn’t really said much more than that. He just says they still really want me and are going to keep coming.”
USC is still recruiting Tagovailoa and Tagovailoa admits that he is still considering USC.
“Yes sir, that’s a school I’m definitely still considering for an official visit,” said Tagovailoa. “I grew up watching USC. That’s a founding school — a school my whole family loves.
“My number was No. 11 because of Matt Leinart. I used to love watching Reggie Bush when I was little. But we only got to watch those schools play because they were on the West Coast. I don’t really see schools in the SEC or other conferences.”
Indeed, it was after unofficial visits to Ole Miss, Auburn and Alabama that Tagovailoa became interested in colleges further east than the Pacific Time Zone. His commitment to Alabama is not about childhood dreams, but rather present-day realities.
“Alabama is coming so far to offer me,” said Tagovailoa. “They only had one player ever from Hawaii, and that was a long, long time ago.
“With them winning the way they are now, it says a lot about the opportunity. Coach [Nick] Saban has just been great. I think what keeps me committed is the Southern Hospitality. It is very much like Hawaii. It’s a very tradition-rich area, which is something I relate to coming from a Samoan background. Church is also very important there and it’s very important in my life as well.”
Tagovailoa will officially visit Alabama after the season, which is when he would like to take all of his visits. However, there is a possibility that he could graduate from St. Louis mid-year.
“I’m still kind of contemplating that, but it will depend on summer school,” said Tagovailoa. “I guess that will impact when I take my visits, but I’d like to do it later in the year.”
This summer, Tagovailoa only has the Elite 11 in Redondo Beach (Calif.) and The Opening Finals in Beaverton (Ore.) scheduled. This past weekend, Tagovailoa participated in the Steve Clarkson Quarterback Retreat in Coronado (Calif.).
“This is a quarterback retreat and I knew the best would be here,” said Tagovailoa. “Tate Martell and Chase Garbers are here, so with so many big-time names, I wanted to meet everyone before the Elite 11.
“You want to build relationships, and why not do it at an event like this? I’m grateful to Steve Clarkson for giving me the opportunity.”
With multiple camps under his belt the past two years, there is one common theme he hears from coaches and camp councilors.
“A lot of coaches have told me I need to go under center more,” said Tagovailoa. “We’re a shotgun based school at St. Louis, so I roll out this way and that way, but never straight back.
“I’ve taken that into consideration and I’m working on it as much as I can.”