HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Like he was in the pocket for most of Alabama’s football season, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa says he’s calm and collected in the hours ahead of Saturday’s Heisman Trophy presentation.
“Being here, it’s not nerve wracking at all,” said Tagovailoa, speaking at New York’s Marriott Marquis about two hours before the presentation was to begin.
Wearing a maroon suit and draped in a pair of lei that were flown in from Hawaii, Tagovailoa – along with fellow finalists Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State and Kyler Murray from Oklahoma – answered questions and posed with the trophy one final time before making the quick one-block trip to the PlayStation Theater.
Tagovailoa was sure that he wasn’t experiencing any anxiety, but less sure of from where his lei were actually made.
“I don’t know too much about the history about (his lei), but I do know what it represents,” said Tagovailoa. “A sign of congratulations or a sign of welcome. For my family, it’s for them to show support.”
The swelling number of family members in New York for the presentation – too many to count, he says – surely helps minimize the grandeur of a stage that would intimidate many.
With them behind him on college football’s biggest stage, Tagovailoa was even comfortable enough to admits that he saw this moment happening.
“I think when you’re a kid, you have levels to how you dream,” says Tagovailoa. “You dream of winning a state championship, and when you’re at the collegiate level, you dream of other things. When you’re a (skill position player), you dream of winning the Heisman.”
His fellow finalists echoed the same sentiment.
“Did I go into the season thinking I could be here? Of course,” says Murray. “You have to have confidence in yourself.”
“Of course you dream about doing it,” added Haskins, of winning the Heisman Trophy.
The ceremony is televised on ESPN and begins at 3:00 p.m. Hawaii time. Should Tagovailoa’s name be called, and he joins the ranks of Heisman Trophy winners, he says there is actually something he may be unprepared for – an acceptance speech.
“I only wrote down some bullet points,” said Tagovailoa. “I want to be able to speak from the heart.”