Tua Tagovailoa grew up dreaming of Heisman, isn’t nervous on big day – AL.com


It was maybe halfway through his sophomore season when all this seemed possible.

Sitting in the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, Tua Tagovailoa said it was his star receiver who first told him of the growing Heisman buzz.

“That’s cool,” he thought.

Now, he’s waiting for Saturday night’s ceremony in what’s expected to be one of the closer Heisman votes in recent memory. It’s between Tagovailoa and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray in a prelude to the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens.

Alabama’s passer is impressed with his competition from the limited film he’s seen of Murray.

“I think I’ve only seen one game and that was the West Virginia-Oklahoma game, and it was a high scoring game,” Tagovailoa said of the 59-56 Sooner win the day after Thanksgiving. “The first touchdown he had, it was a running touchdown, and geez, this man was moving. He can beat you with his arm and he can beat you with his legs. Very talented person. But being able to meet him in Atlanta, I think he’s an even better person.”

Though Tagovailoa several times on Friday said the real goal is with the team, the Heisman is something he dreamed of watching the early-December ceremony yearly with his father.

He recalled going to a watch party at his Honolulu high school to watch alum Marcus Mariota win the 2014 stiff-armed trophy.

“Yeah, I think when you’re young and you have dreams and aspirations,” Tagovailoa said, “and this is definitely one of my dreams to be able to come to New York, to be mentioned in the Heisman talk and to be a finalist with these other guys …”

For most of the season, it was Tagovailoa who had the inside track on the Heisman. An injury-plagued SEC Championship hurt his numbers and his Heisman stock.

Murray took the lead in informal polls and became the betting favorite to claim the prize in the ceremony starting at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Tagovailoa had perspective on it all Friday afternoon.

Asked if he was nervous, Tagovailoa only said it’s a blessing to be here as a finalist.

“If I win it, it’s awesome,” he said. “If I don’t, it’s not the end of the world. We’re just looking as a team to become the best we can be.”

Michael Casagrande is an Alabama beat writer for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande or on Facebook.

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