Ed Orgeron: Tua ‘one of the best college football players ever,’ Tagovailoas ‘a great family’
Speaking to reporters ahead of Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney both had high praise for a certain quarterback not involved in the big game this year.
University of Alabama Crimson Tide star QB Tua Tagovailoa, exactly one week ahead of the national championship game, announced that he would declare for and enter April’s NFL Draft, thus foregoing his senior season in Tuscaloosa.
Tagovailoa has played in the past two championship matchups, beating Georgia in 2018 and then losing out to Clemson last year.
The respective Tigers coaches were asked Saturday about Tagovailoa, and the words of adulation flowed.
“First of all, I think he’s one of the best college football players ever,” LSU’s Orgeron said. “He changed the way we do things in the SEC. It’s wonderful. He’s a pioneer. He has a great family.”
The coach then reflected on the first time Tagovailoa threw a pass in the Tide’s 29-0 victory over LSU in Baton Rouge in 2018.
“I remember two years ago we were playing them, and my first recollection of his first pass, it was the quickest release I’ve seen in 35 years of football,” Orgeron advised. “Now, you can practice it until you see something else. A tremendous competitor. Always handles himself with first class. I can’t say that I’m sorry that he’s not coming back. I’m not going to say that. But he meant a lot for football. I think he’s going to be a tremendous pro. I hope he stays healthy and has a great year.”
Swinney, the native Alabamian who also played and coached at the University of Alabama, said NFL teams would do well to land Tagovailoa.
“Tua’s special,” Swinney outlined. “I mean, he’s one of the best quarterbacks we’ve seen come through the college ranks. Awesome person. Just a phenomenal young man. … He’s been so good for the game, just what he represents. … From a talent standpoint, he’s awesome. If I was in the NFL, I’d be taking Tua. Because he’s a winner. He’s a very savvy, smart, instinctive player. He’s tough. He’s got a great heart. He’s going to make everybody else around him better. Those are qualities you want in a quarterback. He’s got a great future. He’ll heal up, get well and make a great player for somebody.”
The comments came the day following Tagovailoa traveling to New Orleans, the site of this year’s championship game, to receive the 2019 Bobby Bowden Award. This award, given out by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, annually recognizes the Division I player “who epitomizes the student-athlete and conducts himself as a faith model in the community, in the classroom and on the field.”
Swinney added that Tagovailoa “impacted a lot of people through his platform at the University of Alabama.”
“From a talent aspect, he’s awesome. If I was in the NFL, I’d be taking Tua.”
Dabo Swinney has some high praise for Tua Tagovailoa 👏 pic.twitter.com/7JvEO0zabN
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) January 11, 2020
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn