Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of former Alabama and current Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, has reportedly entered the NCAA transfer portal for the second time, hoping to gain eligibility for a sixth college season.
Background on Taulia Tagovailoa
Taulia Tagovailoa joined the University of Maryland as a transfer in 2020 after originally committing to Alabama out of high school. He took over as Maryland’s starting quarterback that year and went on to set numerous passing records for the Terrapins.
Over the past three seasons at Maryland, Tagovailoa threw for 7,651 yards and 50 touchdowns, starting 32 games. He is Maryland’s all-time leader in career passing yards and touchdowns.
Tagovailoa battled injuries during his time at Maryland, tearing his ACL in 2021. He petitioned the NCAA for a medical redshirt that year but was denied.
Tagovailoa Enters Portal Again
Despite having no college eligibility remaining, Tagovailoa entered the NCAA transfer portal on January 5th, 2023, hoping to get a sixth year.
Tagovailoa is petitioning the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility due to “family hardships” stemming from his brother Tua’s severe hip injury while at Alabama. Tua’s injury required multiple surgeries and significant rehab, which Taulia claims impacted his early development.
Since Tagovailoa has already redshirted, he would need the NCAA to grant him a medical hardship waiver to extend his eligibility. These waivers are typically reserved for season-ending injuries, which Taulia did suffer in 2021 with his ACL tear.
Reaction from Maryland and Potential Transfer Destinations
Maryland head coach Mike Locksley expressed disappointment over potentially losing his all-time leading passer but understood Tagovailoa wanting to explore his options.
“It’s an unfortunate part of the business these days with the easiness of entering the portal…We wish Taulia nothing but the best no matter what he decides is the right step for his future,” said Locksley.
As a talented quarterback with extensive starting experience, Tagovailoa will likely generate significant interest if he receives the extra year of eligibility.
The University of Miami, where Tua currently plays, has been mentioned as a top potential landing spot. Reuniting the Tagovailoa brothers would be a compelling story. Miami struggled at quarterback this past season and has an open competition entering 2023.
Other potential transfer destinations could include conference foes like Michigan State, who just lost their starting QB, or a Group of Five school where Tagovailoa could shine.
What This Means for Maryland
Regardless of whether Tagovailoa can gain an extra year of eligibility, his departure leaves Maryland scrambling at the quarterback position entering 2023.
Backup QB Billy Edwards Jr. played well in relief duty this past season but only attempted 35 total passes behind the entrenched Tagovailoa. He is the most experienced option on the roster but has not demonstrated he can handle a full-time starting job.
Maryland also has a commitment from 3-star QB Jayden Sauray in its 2023 recruiting class. However, expecting an incoming freshman to adequately replace one of the most productive QBs in program history is unrealistic.
Coach Locksley now faces a critical juncture needing to replenish the quarterback talent through the transfer portal or rapid development of Edwards/Sauray. Maryland cannot afford a major backslide offensively after Tagovailoa spearheaded some of their best passing attacks ever.
Outlook if Tagovailoa Receives Sixth Year
Should Taulia Tagovailoa shock the college football world and secure an extra year of eligibility, he immediately becomes one of the top transfer portal prizes this offseason. He offers a plug-and-play, battle-tested starter to whichever program lands the former Terrapins signal-caller.
Tagovailoa has hinted he wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps and continue playing at the next level after he exhausts his college eligibility. If he can return for 2023, Tagovailoa will have one more season to bolster his NFL Draft stock and prove himself to pro scouts. An injury-hampered 2021 campaign damaged his projections.
Ultimately, it remains a long-shot for Tagovailoa to gain another year of eligibility from the rigid NCAA. But after entering the portal to explore the possibility, his departure leaves Maryland scrambling at quarterback regardless of the outcome.
Tagovailoa’s missile-armed left hand undeniably helped the Terrapins achieve some of their greatest offensive outputs in program history. Replacing that prolific production now becomes Coach Locksley’s unwelcome responsibility however the Taulia transfer saga concludes.
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