BEAVERTON, Ore. – A room full of the nation’s top high school football players exploded with happiness when Tua Tagovailoa was named the Elite 11 MVP, which is one of the most prestigious awards a prep quarterback can receive.
In the last few rows of the theater inside the Tiger Woods Center at Nike’s world headquarters at the conclusion of The Opening was around 20 members of Tagovailoa’s family sporting red T-shirts screen-printed with “Tuaman” on the front. The majority of his family made the trip to Oregon from Hawaii.
His family got to see Tagovailoa carve up Team FlyRush’s defense, which features five-star cornerbacks DeAngelo Gibbs and AJ Terrell along with one of the nation’s top athletes in Jamyest Williams in the championship game of the 7-on-7 tournament. Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns and had zero turnovers while leading Team VaporSpeed to a 38-14 win.
How did Tagovailoa manage to have a masterful performance at The Opening? It was because of who was watching on the sidelines.
“They made the week easier,” Tagovailoa told SEC Country. “It made me feel so comfortable knowing that you have the support of family near and far to come down here to watch me participate in an event like this.”
What’s even more remarkable of Tagovailoa’s journey from Honolulu to being crowned the Elite 11 MVP and 7-on-7 MVP is the fact that he still found time to take in part in what matters more to him than collecting trophies, and that’s practicing his faith.
Tagovailoa said what matters to him more was the opportunity he had to interact with various players from around the country and help influence them to make the right choices when they travel back home.
“My favorite part of the week was having bible studies with some of the guys at the hotel because all of these things that I’m getting is a little bit of an ounce of what God is blessing me with,” Tagovailoa said.
Hundreds of quarterbacks participated in The Opening’s regional camps around the country and the left-handed gunslinger from Honolulu’s Saint Louis School was the last man standing.
Tagovailoa is often compared to former Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota attended Saint Louis School, too, and has a similar playing style to Tagovailoa’s dual-threat skills. But one comparison between the two that can’t be made is the Alabama quarterback commit is an Elite 11 MVP, which is something Mariota did not win when he was in high school.
“Getting through this long process and winning MVP is just something so amazing,” Tagovailoa said. “Out of all these quarterbacks that go through this process, only one can win. All glory goes to God.
It’s just a blessing, man. It’s a blessing.”
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.