HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Thursday morning in Ewa Beach, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his cousin, Notre Dame defensive lineman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, were welcomed back to their former intermediate school with cheers and congratulations.
In return, the two alumni passed on a few lessons.
Tagovailoa, who helped the Crimson Tide win an NCAA national championship in January, preached a message was all about perseverance. But while he was sharing some of the knowledge he's gained so far in his collegiate experience, the Tide's signal caller also confirmed a rumor that had been spreading – thanks to former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.
After Alabama won the national title, Kiffin – now the head coach at Florida Atlantic – claimed Tagovailoa had long been considering transferring to another school. According to Tagovailoa, that may have actually been the case.
"I called my dad and asked him if my offer to the University of Southern California was still available," Tagovailoa told the crowd of seventh and eighth graders. "I wanted to leave. I told my dad I wanted to go to a school where I thought it'd be easier for me and wouldn't challenge me so much."
The former Crusader went on to tell the students that this particular conversation with his father took place early in his time in Tuscaloosa – and that it actually landed him in hot water with his family.
He said his parents told him he had to push through, and he knew they were right. Still, Tagovailoa says, feelings of frustration crept in again as he accumulated more and more time on the bench for the Crimson Tide last season as their second-string QB behind Jalen Hurts.
"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."
As most know by now, Tagovailoa did play in the national title game, entering the game in the second half to lead the Tide back from a 13-point deficit to a 26-23 win in overtime.
He's now considered one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the nation according to a number of polls and experts ahead of the 2018 season despite never having played a full game for 'Bama. He's still technically not even the clear starter for the Tide heading into next season.
Despite all the noise, Tagovailoa told students he's getting better at not caring about what others outside the program say. In fact, he says, his mentality about it all has remained the same since the days he was shattering records and winning state titles with the Saint Louis Crusaders.
"My mentality doesn't (change)," said Tagovailoa. "I just got to keep working."