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Where EAST meets the Northwest


WEIGHTY DECISION. Tua Tagovailoa said that being assured heíd likely remain a high National Football League draft pick could make "the biggest decision of my life" a little easier. The Alabama quarter- back is still weighing his options and going through rehab for the right hip injury that ended his junior season ó and potentially his career with the Crimson Tide. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

From The Asian Reporter, V29, #24 (December 16, 2019), page 7.

NFL or college? Alabamaís Tagovailoa still weighing options

By John Zenor

The Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ó Tua Tagovailoa said that being assured heíd likely remain a high National Football League (NFL) draft pick could make "the biggest decision of my life" a little easier.

The Alabama quarterback is still weighing his options and going through rehab for the right hip injury that ended his junior season ó and potentially his career with the 11th-ranked Crimson Tide. Once regarded as a potential No. 1 overall pick, Tagovailoa said if he feels heíll still be a Top 10 or 15 pick, that might be too tempting to stick around.

"I think thatíd be tough to pass up," he said, sitting in a chair where the podium normally rests during Alabama news conferences. "But I think thereís a lot more to it than that in some aspects."

Tagovailoa stopped there, saying he wants to have that conversation with his family not reporters.

He walked into the room on crutches, sporting dinosaur-covered red pajama pants, saying it looked "like a (Nick) Saban press conference" before doing an impression of his coach. He ended the news conference by telling a reporter he liked his Christmas sweater.

In between the quips, he discussed his uncertain future and the big decision of whether to stay in Tuscaloosa or enter the draft.

Tagovailoa was injured when he was dragged down by two Mississippi State defenders on November 16. He had surgery two days later in Houston.

The quarterback doesnít have a timeline on when he will make that decision, saying it could come right before the January 20 deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft.

"This is probably going to be the biggest decision of my life," Tagovailoa said. "This is where I seek advice from what I believe and this is where I seek advice from my parents. But truly at the end of the day, the decision comes down to me, whether I feel like itís right for me to stay or whether itís right for me to go.

"Itís just a really, really big decision, and everybody just wants to know. Thatís what makes it even bigger, Iíd say."

In the meantime, he has started the rehab process in Birmingham, Alabama, and is getting treatment at Alabamaís athletic facilities while back in class. He said the medical staff was surprised at how well he did pushing against resistance with his right leg.

Tagovailoa said he wonít be able to twist his hip as much inward but doesnít believe that will affect his football ability.

"What the doctors have said is they expect a full recovery, that Iíd be able to go out there and play football again at 100%," Tagovailoa said. "I just wonít be able to rotate it internally the same way."

Heís less certain about whether heíll return to football for the 2020 season or beyond. He pointed out that this isnít a standard, somewhat predictable football injury and recovery process.

Tagovailoa said he spoke with former Auburn star Bo Jackson ó who had his NFL career cut short by a hip injury. He said Jackson told him not to rush things, but Tagovailoa also said the injuries were very different.

"Iíve played hurt many times over the course of the two years that Iíve been the starter here, but Iíd like to say this is just a totally different situation," Tagovailoa said. "This is a unique situation. This isnít something that I can rush. If I want to play to my full potential, I know that I canít just come back and play on it as if it were my ankle.

"Itís just something that I need to take into consideration. Me wanting to play, I think a lot of that has to go into my decision-making, too, as to whether I stay or leave."

Tagovailoa has already set the Alabama record for passing touchdowns with 87 and his 7,442 passing yards ranks third in school history. He watched from the side- lines as No. 11 Alabama fell 45-48 to rival Auburn, ending the Tideís playoff hopes.

"Itís really tough being able to watch your guys be able to go out and play and not be able to do anything to help them," Tagovailoa said. "The only thing that I could do is just try to encourage them."

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