Alabama quarterback commit Tua Tagovailoa wanted a challenge. It was one of the main reasons why he chose the Crimson Tide in the first place.
Tagovailoa, the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat prospect, plays in a spread offense at Saint Louis School in Honolulu. He’s never played a snap under center while in high school.
Trent Dilfer, who won Super Bowl XXXV with the Baltimore Ravens, is one of the quarterback gurus in charge of the Elite 11 camp, arguably the nation’s top high school camp for quarterbacks, to which Tagovailoa was invited. Dilfer, during a Bleacher Report Facebook video announcing Tagovaiola’s invitation to Nike headquarters in July, raved about the transformation Tagovailoa underwent in a short time period.
“We saw him two weeks ago in Oakland (for Nike’s Opening regional) and I challenged him and a few other guys and I told him, ‘Hey, Tua, the way you play the position, even though it looks great, doesn’t translate to the next level. It lacks discipline. It doesn’t benefit the way you move in the pocket — you can’t throw in tight spaces. You have to work on this,”‘ Dilfer said. “I have never seen a kid, since I’ve been doing this, change more in two weeks.”
The longtime NFL quarterback went on to tell a story of how serious Tagovailoa took that challenge. Shortly after that talk with Dilfer, Tagovailoa and his father, Galu, went home to Hawaii and started practicing almost immediately.
“He would go to football practice and then him and his pops would go to the park and set up the cones that we talked about in Oakland to retrain his instincts and play from under center,” Dilfer said. “He played under center in the 7-on-7 more than he played in (shotgun).”
Tagovailoa committed to Alabama over Southern California last month. Before that decision, he and his family spent a week in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where they fell in love with the town that reminded them of Honolulu.
So what kind of prospect is the Crimson Tide getting out of Tagovailoa? Dilfer thinks he has a chance to be considered a champion before he even steps inside of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“He has a legitimate chance to be the MVP of the Elite 11,” Dilfer said.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.