Alabama fell to LSU yesterday, despite a strong performance from Tua Tagovailoa. After missing a game with a high ankle sprain, the junior QB returned to the field in his usual form.
Tagovailoa shook off an early fumble inside the LSU 10-yard line to connect on 21 of 40 passes for 418 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. In the process, he earned the respect of LSU safety JaCoby Stevens.
After the game, Stevens sang Tagovailoa’s praises, especially for his decision to rehab his injured ankle and play yesterday instead of resting himself.
“Tua is a team player, man,” Stevens told Michael Casagrande of AL.com. “He had every reason to be selfish. He has every excuse in the world not to play this game and just prepare for the draft. But one thing Tua is going to do is Tua is going to come out and put on a show for his fans and he’s going to play his hardest for his team. That’s one thing … I respect the hell out of Tua for doing that.”
For the season, Tagovailoa is completing a career-high 70.9 percent of his passes for 2,584 yards, 31 touchdowns and three interceptions. He remains in the conversation to be the No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Mel Kiper listed Tagovailoa as the No. 2 overall prospect on his big board, behind Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. The longtime draftnik thinks Young, Tagovailoa, LSU’s Joe Burrow or Oregon’s Justin Herbert are fighting to be the No. 1 overall pick.
“It’s a three-horse race,” Kiper said. “All three are vying to be that guy. Everybody thought it was guaranteed to be Tua. That’s not the case because of Burrow’s ascension up that board. Justin Herbert is coming off a phenomenal game against USC. He has more talent than any of the other two or any quarterback in this draft or the last 20 years. Herbert has that kind of ability. He’s not to the level of some of the other guys in terms of instinct and awareness, but talent? He has it. There’s three quarterbacks all still being evaluated for that top spot and then there’s Chase Young that great pass rusher out of Ohio State.”