HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The votes are in and Tua Tagovailoa is headed to New York.
On ESPN Monday the former Crusader was announced as a finalist for the most prestigious award in college football, the Heisman trophy.
Tagovailoa was nominated alongside Oklahoma dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray and Ohio State’s signal caller Dwayne Haskins.
Tagovailoa joins Colt Brennan, Manti Te’o and fellow Crusader Marcus Mariota as the only players in the history of Hawaii football to be nominated for the Heisman trophy.
Mariota won the award in 2014 and is still the only player with Hawai’i ties ever to do so.
Tagovailoa’s former high school quarterback coach Vinny Passas coached both him and Marcus Mariota.
Tagovailoa started training at his quarterback camps back when he was still playing pop warner football.
Passas isn’t surprised by Tagovailoa’s march to the top of the college football world.
“We’re just forever grateful for coach Saban," Passas said. “Giving him that opportunity last year to show what he can do for the rest of the world and country to see what we already knew about Tua Tagovailoa.”
Tagovailoa’s former high school head coaches, the legendary Lee brothers, said just to be a finalist for college football’s biggest award is an honor in itself.
Coach Cal Lee believes just being among the conversation of the college football elite is rare for any player to do.
“We’re just happy that he’s in this position," Cal said. "I mean to be in the top three or four in the country I mean that says a lot.”
For the St. Louis Crusaders, this is the second time they have an alumni in the race for the Heisman trophy. Their program has produced players who have long-dominated the prep ranks.
It has never been more apparent that the Crusader football program continues to produce national football icons.
Coach Ron Lee believes it starts with the kids mindsets when they play for St. Louis high school.
“You know really attending Saint Louis they’re used to playing under top caliber football,” Ron said. “I think part of our goal is to get these guys ready for the next level.”
Nobody could have predicted that the next level would be a Heisman invitation for Tagovailoa.
When the Crimson tide came to court, coach Cal Lee told Nick Saban one thing about the lefty from Ewa Beach.
“I told him that you won’t regret it, if you get him you are not going to regret it and I think he’s happy now," Cal said.
The Heisman trophy will be awarded Dec. 8 at 3:00 pm Hawaii time on ESPN. Be sure to check out Hawaii News Now extended coverage of Tagovailoa’s Quest for the Heisman.