Tua Tagovailoa: Hawaii’s Newest NFL Star


“Tua” Tagovailoa (TUNG-oh-vy-LOW-uh) has become one of the NFL’s most talked-about quarterbacks coming into his second season; however, being in the spotlight is something the Miami Dolphin’s quarterback is used to. 


Tua was born to Galu and Diane Tagovailoa in 1998 in ‘Ewa Beach, O’ahu in Hawaii. His parents acknowledge Tua’s intense passion for football started from a young age, remarking that as a small child he would often sleep with a football under his arm. While playing with the Pop Warner youth football program, Tua was said to be able to throw a ball 30 yards while his peers would throw an average of 10 yards. This all to the delight of his childhood inspiration, Seu Tagovailoa, his grandfather who was so respected in the Samoan community he was often referred to as “Chief”. The two were said to be so close that Tua almost quit football when Seu passed away, but, Galu helped him see that playing would honor his grandfather more than quitting would. 


Tua attended High School at Saint Louis School in Honolulu. Mentored by fellow Hawaiian native, former St. Louis Alum, Heisman Trophy winner and current NFL quarterback, Marcus Mariota, Tua flourished. In his senior year Tua threw for 2,669 yards and 27 touchdowns. He played in the All-American Bowl and became a part of the Elite 11 roster. 


Tua’s rise to the national eye came in the form of a scholarship offer to play with college football powerhouse, the Alabama Crimson Tide. In his freshman year, Tua found himself backing up future NFL quarterback, Jalen Hurts. Under the watchful training of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, Tua once again thrived hitting the spotlight when he was brought in after halftime to replace Hurts who was struggling in the National Championship game. Tua threw a touchdown pass in overtime that lifted the Crimson Tide 26-23 over the Bulldogs. He was honored as the CFP National Championship’s Offensive MVP. 


Despite a devastating injury during his junior year, Tua’s career at Alabama was impressive enough to garner the attention of many NFL teams. During his 3 years playing with the Crimson Tide, he had a 69% completion rating and threw for 87 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions. He rushed for an additional 9 more touchdowns on the ground. 


Tua’s hip injury during his junior year had an impact on his draft stock. Originally, a projected #1 overall draft pick, he fell to the 5th overall pick by the Miami Dolphins. His rookie year didn’t quite meet the expectations most had for him; however, his record lends hope to his full potential. For a successful sophomore year, Tua will need to grow more comfortable and confident in his ability and team. The Miami Dolphins recognize this and have brought on two receivers, one of which Tua has played with while playing for the Crimson Tide, Jaylen Waddle, in addition to numerous other draftees and free agents. The familiarity of Waddle as well as these additional players should bring the confidence he needs to ramp up downfield throws to successfully lead his team.  


The talent of football runs deep in the Tagovailoa family. Tua’s younger brother, Taulia is following in his big brother’s footsteps by transferring to the Maryland Terrapins in 2020 after backing up his brother while playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The dual-threat quarterbacks will continue to bring honor to their family and fellow native Hawaiians through their football legacies and futures. We will watch with great hope and anticipation for the 2021 NFL season as Tua takes the next step to establish himself as a top-tier NFL quarterback.  


We are confident that Seu Tagovailoa, Tua’s grandfather, looks on with pride as Tua E kūlia i ka nu’u (strives to reach his highest). 



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