Taulia Tagovailoa, the starting quarterback for the Maryland Terrapins for the past three seasons, has entered the NCAA transfer portal just days after Maryland’s victory in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Tagovailoa is Maryland’s all-time leading passer and is seeking a sixth year of eligibility and immediate eligibility at his next school.
Background on Taulia Tagovailoa’s Maryland Career
Tagovailoa joined Maryland in 2020 after transferring from Alabama. He took over as the starting quarterback that year and went on to start 35 straight games for the Terps. This past season, he passed for 3,008 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 69% of his passes.
Over his Maryland career, Tagovailoa compiled 9,732 passing yards and 62 touchdowns. He is the Terps’ all-time leading passer, surpassing Scott Milanovich’s career record this season.
Tagovailoa provided stability at quarterback that the Terps hadn’t had in years prior. In 2019, Maryland used four different starting quarterbacks and limped to a 3-9 record. With Tagovailoa as the starter the past three years, the Terps went 21-14.
Seeking a Sixth Year Due to Injury and COVID-19
Although Tagovailoa has already used his four years of eligibility plus a COVID year, he is petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year. His rationale is that he missed most of his true freshman season at Alabama in 2018 due to a hand injury after appearing in five games.
Tagovailoa also says the COVID-abbreviated 2020 season should not count as a full season, arguing he didn’t gain experience missing three games. He played in just five games that year before suffering a season-ending foot injury.
The NCAA will have to weigh Tagovailoa’s petition carefully. While he makes some fair points, he did start 35 games at Maryland. Typically sixth-year waivers are granted to players who missed multiple entire seasons due to factors out of their control.
Transfer Destinations in Play
As Tagovailoa enters the portal seeking immediate eligibility, he’ll draw interest from teams needing an experienced quarterback. Teams like Miami, USC, Ole Miss, and Colorado could be potential landing spots.
Tagovailoa will likely want to showcase his talents for NFL scouts, even if he doesn’t get drafted. Continuing to start and piling up stats is his best path forward. Reuniting with his former offensive coordinator at Maryland, Dan Enos, now at Miami, is an intriguing possibility.
Back in his home state of Alabama, Tagovailoa could succeed outgoing senior Hendon Hooker as the starter for the Rebels. USC could also make a play for Tagovailoa to stabilize their unsettled QB situation.
What’s Next for the Terps
For Maryland, Tagovailoa’s sudden departure leaves the team in a difficult spot. Backup Billy Edwards Jr. was expected to take over as starter, but he entered the transfer portal in December. The other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster are young, unproven players.
The Terps could hit the transfer portal themselves or shift their offensive philosophy to lean on talented running back Roman Hemby. Coach Mike Locksley has his work cut out maintaining the momentum from Maryland’s first bowl win since 2016.
With spring practice just around the corner, Locksley must act swiftly to shore up the quarterback position. Maryland is losing not just a prolific starting QB but a respected team leader in Tagovailoa. Replacing his production and presence will be no easy task.
Overall, Tagovailoa’s transfer portal entry shakes up the quarterback landscape across college football. A decorated starter with extensive experience at the Power 5 level doesn’t come available too often. Tagovailoa appears intent on showcasing himself for the NFL Draft, even if the NCAA denies his petition for a sixth year. Who he ultimately picks as his next college destination will be a major storyline going forward.
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