Tua Tagovailoa 'wanted to leave' Alabama during the 2017 season

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/274844/" data-ylk="slk:Tua Tagovailoa">Tua Tagovailoa</a> is competing with <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/264323/" data-ylk="slk:Jalen Hurts">Jalen Hurts</a> to be Alabama’s 2018 starting QB. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Tua Tagovailoa is competing with Jalen Hurts to be Alabama’s 2018 starting QB. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Don’t doubt Lane Kiffin.

The former Alabama offensive coordinator and current Florida Atlantic coach said after Alabama’s comeback win in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game that he had “no doubt” QB Tua Tagovailoa would have left Alabama if he didn’t play in the second half of the game.

Thursday, Tagovailoa told a group of middle schoolers at his old school in Hawaii that he talked to his dad about potentially leaving Alabama during his freshman season and was frustrated he wasn’t the starting quarterback of the Tide. From Hawaii News Now:

“Even throughout my football season, I wasn’t the starter,” Tagovailoa continued. “I wanted to leave the school. So I told myself if I didn’t play in the last game, which was the national championship game, I would transfer out. If I gave in, I don’t think I would have seen the end blessing of where I am now.”

Tagovailoa said he even called his father to ask if a scholarship from USC — which had recruited him as well — was still available.

A highly-rated recruit, Tagovailoa was the backup to Jalen Hurts for the entirety of the 2017 season. As Hurts struggled against Georgia in the title game, coach Nick Saban made the call to insert Tagovailoa into the game.

What happened next is the stuff of legend, as you know. Tagovailoa threw a long touchdown pass to Devonta Smith in overtime as Alabama beat Georgia 26-23.

Thankfully for Alabama fans and Tagovailoa himself, his parents weren’t too keen on the idea of a transfer. And now the sophomore will compete with Hurts for the starting quarterback job entering the 2018 season.

Tagovailoa should be healthy for the start of summer practices after missing much of the spring with an injury to his left throwing hand. That opened the door for Hurts to get much of the playing time during spring practice, though Hurts didn’t exactly wow Saban at one point during Alabama’s spring game. 

And while Tagovailoa may be committed to Alabama, Hurts’ father intimated his son could transfer if Tagovailoa wins the starting quarterback job before the season. Averion Hurts said Jalen would be the “biggest free agent in college football history” if he decided to transfer from Alabama and left the door open to the possibility if Hurts doesn’t start for a third-straight season.


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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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