Plenty of prospects, some of them high-profile, others under-the-radar, have come and gone in the past decade or so, since the inception of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl. Still, the talent level across the board on the national scene has been about as good as it gets.
Things don’t figure to change anytime soon, as the hype continues to build for this year’s games: Dec. 16 and Jan. 20 at Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, Jan. 6 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium and Jan. 13 at Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes Benz Stadium.
To gain a better understanding about the rapidly growing direction of things, perhaps now it’s best to take some time to reflect on the humble beginnings. Therefore, moving forward, the plan is to more closely examine the brand’s many alumni from all over the country.
Tua Tagovailoa from St. Louis (HI) takes center stage here. As a member of the Class of 2017, he was invited to the game at AT&T Stadium, a 27-24 victory for West over East. However, as one of nation’s premier prospects at the time, his focus instead turned to recruiting. Rightfully so, on many accounts, with everything at stake for the future.
Prior to, some might recall when as a sophomore, Tagovailoa first opened up plenty of eyes and earned MVP honors at the brand’s All-American Combine (Hawaii Regional), all the while under the watchful eyes of NFL veterans Mark McMillian and Tevita Ofahengaue.
High-profile prospect Nate Herbig was also in attendance. Well-known peers Vavae Malepeai, Jeremiah Pritchard, Michael Eletise, Sean Auwae and Frederick Mauigoa commanded attention before, during, and after, the workout. Still, everyone was there to see Tagovailoa.
There’s been no stopping him since. Nowadays, the headlines are made at the next level. The 6-foot-1 and 218-pound junior quarterback, in fact, has emerged as the leader for Alabama and will be in action against Ole Miss on Sept. 28 in an SEC game at 12 p.m. (EST).
In the season opener, Tagovailoa had 336 passing yards and four touchdowns in a 42-3 nonconference victory over Duke. Seven days later, it was 227 passing yards and four more touchdowns, one rushing, in a 62-10 nonconference victory over New Mexico State.
It was more of the same the next week, as he had 444 passing yards and five touchdowns in a 47-23 SEC victory over South Carolina. For an encore, Tagovailoa finished with 293 passing yards and five touchdowns in a 49-7 nonconference victory over Southern Miss.
A front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, remember as a sophomore, he won the Walter Camp Player of the Year and Maxwell Award. As a freshman, the highlight was delivering a 26-23 overtime victory against Georgia for College Football Playoff’s National Championship.
Moving forward, the NFL Draft most certainly awaits, perhaps with his game being called No. 1 overall. Not long ago, however, the path to success for Tagovailoa included the brand’s All-American Combine in Hawaii and an invite to the All-American Bowl in Texas thereafter.