HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For more than a year, the popular social media mantra around many NFL teams without a franchise quarterback was ‘Tank for Tua’ ― lose enough games to be in position to take Tagovailoa, considered by most to be one of the best players in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The plan, at least for the Miami Dolphins, appears to have worked.
Tagovailoa, the former Alabama quarterback who starred at Honolulu’s Saint Louis School as one of the most highly-recruited players in Hawaii prep football history, is headed to South Florida after being taken with the fifth overall selection in the first round of Thursday’s draft.
“Now that I am apart of the organization, it can only go up from here,” Tagovailoa said.
Speaking with reporters after his selection, Tagovailoa said he was grateful and honored for the support of Miami’s fans and ready to get to work as the team’s new star quarterback.
“It’s a different ball game,” Tagovailoa said. “What I did in college can’t translate to the NFL. It’s a clean slate. I have to go out there and earn my respect.”
He did plenty in college. Tagovailoa helped the Crimson Tide win an NCAA National Championship in 2017 and won the Maxwell and Walter Camp awards in 2018, given annually to the top collegiate quarterback.
Alabama went 22-2 in the 24 games that he started for the Crimson Tide. Tagovailoa currently holds the Alabama career records for completion percentage, total touchdowns, touchdowns in a season and touchdowns in a single game.
Tagovailoa said openly that those were achievements he didn’t accomplish alone.
“Man, it feels awesome. It’s very emotional for me and my family,” he said. “It hasn’t just been a dream of mine, it’s been my entire family’s dream, and I am blessed to say that I carry all of them.”
Speaking to reporters about an hour after he was chosen in the draft, Tagovailoa was peppered with questions about everything from his interactions with head coach Brian Flores to which number he planned on wearing in Miami.
The number 13, which Tagovailoa has worn since high school, has been retired by the Dolphins in honor of Dan Marino, one of the best quarterbacks in league history.
“I am not too worried about what number I have. I understand 13 is retired, and it should be. Dan Marino, he’s the (greatest of all time),” said Tagovailoa. “He’s like the mayor out there. And I have much respect for him.”
NFL draft experts believe Tagovailoa’s contract will be a roughly four-year, $30 million deal ― to go along with a signing bonus that could be as much as $20 million.
Long thought to be among the top quarterback prospects in college football, Tagovailoa’s draft status came into question last season after he suffered a hip dislocation against Mississippi State that was so severe it prematurely ended his season.
He did not participate in the NFL Combine, but Tagovailoa was deemed healthy enough to later hold a virtual workout for scouts. He has since stated that he is completely healthy and does not expect there to be any lingering health issues as a result of the injury.
This story will be updated.