Tua Tagovailoa will return to Alabama for his senior season ... and here's why
God moves in mysterious ways.
That phrase, from a Christian hymn written in 1773 by William Cowper, has nothing to do with athletics.
Nor, too, do we posit a belief that the Heavenly Father cares all that much about the outcome of American intercollegiate tackle football. Teams win or lose. Players play well or fail. Ultimately, we’re fairly certain, all He wants is for His people to be fulfilled in their pursuits and faithful to His glory.
This isn’t a sermon.
This is a bunch of words on a screen about the imminent future of Tua Tagovailoa.
Maybe you’ve heard of him. Left-handed. From Hawaii. Plays quarterback for the University of Alabama. Somewhat injury-prone. Strums a mean ukulele.
A young man of God.
All but the last sentence are descriptors of Tagovailoa, Alabama’s sweet Hawaiian prince. They do not define him.
But the last one — that Tagovailoa is a young man of God — isn’t a descriptor. It is simply who he is.
And that’s why, after all the noise and guttural platitudes and trophies and tight-ropes and what-ifs are filtered out, I am increasingly confident to make the following prediction:
Tagovailoa will return to Alabama for his senior season.
Fire away at the comments below, but hear me out on this one. It was a most interesting experience watching Tagovailoa hobble around Camping World Stadium for the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against Michigan.
Dressed in a crimson Alabama jersey, dope Air Jordans and the diamond-swooshed Nike sweatpants the Crimson Tide players earned from last season’s College Football Playoff journey, Tagovailoa entered the stadium on a single crutch and with a slight smile on his face.
From the moment he emerged from the tunnel to the moment the team buses headed off into the sunset, Tagovailoa was greeted with genuine love from Crimson Tide fans.
People thanking him for his contribution these electrifying past 3 years. People a bit starstruck to see Tagovailoa for perhaps their first time in person. People just happy to see him up and around.
He stood at midfield pregame and got more attention than any other Alabama player on the field — by doing nothing but smiling and talking with Alabama support staff. Jerry Jeudy might be a top 5 pick, and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh’s khakis looked particularly well pressed, but no one felt more visceral love from the congregation than Tagovailoa.
The game ground on and, because it was close nearly to the end, not much mention of No. 13 was had on the ABC telecast. But when Alabama prevailed with 14 unanswered 4th-quarter points and waded through on-field well-wishers to accept the Citrus Bowl trophy, Tagovailoa was among the handful of players on stage — tucked in the back, leaning on his single crutch, again with the slight smile as he took it all in.
Leaving through the confetti and airborne oranges down the same tunnel from which they came, Tagovailoa and the Tide felt the Orlando love for a final time. A short while later, he hobbled on that single crutch to grab a boxed lunch and boarded Bus No. 1 and was out of sight.
The entire time, and perhaps this merely is projecting emotion sort of like how kids project words from the minds of their non-verbal animals, Tagovailoa seemed more wistful than wanting to remember his final time in crimson and white. Or perhaps he was weighing the merits of what his platform is in Tuscaloosa and beyond vs. becoming a quarterback for hire.
As our good friend and veteran Tagovailoa observer Aaron Suttles writes on this very subject:
What needs to be understood is that the Tagovailoa family is one of great faith. It’s not an act. It’s not an attempt to grab attention when Tagovailoa draws a cross in eye black on game days. His faith guides his decisions, and it is most certainly guiding this decision.
That may be hard for some to comprehend. Everyone has a worldview that is heavily shaped by a value system. If you have a fiscal-based value system, it’s unfathomable that he could pass up generational wealth. If you have a faith-based one, there are other things that shape decisions. And it’s not an either-or; both can influence decisions.
Tagovailoa has a decision to make, a choice he stated on social media will be announced Monday. It is a decision that will shape the rest of his life.
Stay at Alabama for his senior season or go to the NFL.
The draft projections have been shared with Tua and the Tagovailoa family. The Crimson Tide Nation seems steadfast in hoping only for Tagovailoa’s good health (if silently calling upon Him to guide their sweet Hawaiian prince back to Titletown for a final romp through the SEC).
But those feel like noise in Tagovailoa’s case. The young man who won the hearts and minds of Alabama fans worldwide is trying hard to place just as much value on that stuff as is necessary.
Tagovailoa references 1 Corinthians 2:9 often, and the verse has special significance in the hours leading up to the most important decision of his life…
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
It might seem backward, but he platform is bigger for Tua Tagovailoa to serve the kingdom of his faith in Tuscaloosa than it is wearing the Dolphins’ aqua or the Chargers’ powder blue. Because Tagovailoa’s faith is unique in the money-driven world, his professional future could easily be geared as much toward Tim Tebow’s missionary pursuits as it is Lamar Jackson’s professional desires.
Tua Tagovailoa has one more season in the sun to serve God’s glory and bask in His grace before grabbing the money. For this we are certain.
Because God moves in mysterious ways.