Meet the freshman QB behind Alabama’s championship win

FAN Editor

ATLANTA – As a child, he slept with a football in his arms. Tuesday, he woke up with a championship under his belt. Meet America’s new household name: Tua Tagovailoa.

The true freshman turned Alabama’s fortunes from lackluster to blockbuster, in a come-from-behind victory in the national title game against the Georgia Bulldogs Monday. He threw three touchdown passes including one in overtime.

Alabama coach Nick Saban won his sixth college crown by making the gutsy call to switch quarterbacks in the second half. Tagovailoa had never expected to play.

“I found out when we were in the locker room,” he said after the game. “Coach brought the quarterbacks together and said, ‘Tua, you’re going to start out the second half.”

Playoff Championship Alabama Football

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, left, speaks next to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa during a press conference in Atlanta, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.

David Goldman / AP

Tagovailoa began playing football in Oahu when he was 8 years old. As a teenager, he shattered Hawaii’s football records at St. Louis High School and became a highly prized recruit. His quarterback mentor was Marcus Mariota, a fellow Hawaiian quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy three years ago.

When Tua signed to play in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, last year, his family moved with him from Hawaii. He brought a taste of aloha with him to Alabama.

“The people are very nice. The people are very religious and there is football, too, so how much better can it get?”

American learned Monday night what his coach already knew — Tagovailoa ‘s name is worth remembering.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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