Many people heard of Tua Tagovailoa for the first time Monday night, when the freshman quarterback came in at halftime and brought Alabama back to win the *national championship.
But Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota knew what was coming, as he has a tight bond with the next great Hawaiian quarterback, who considers him a mentor.
“Tua is a stud. He’s the next guy coming up. Proud of him,” Mariota said, via Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com. “From where that kid’s come, how he’s grown and how he handled the situation last night. He’s very special. Hopefully he can continue his success. I’m sure you guys saw the interview after the game. That’s who he is.”
Tagovailoa shares plenty of characteristics with Mariota, as that post-game interview was the same kind of polite (if not dull), cliche-rich (which is the say appropriate) banter that Mariota has used since he’s been doing interviews.
Mariota has been working with the new Alabama star since Tagovailoa was in fourth grade, as they’re from the same high school. That may explain their similar knacks for late-game drama, as Mariota brought the Titans back from an 18-point deficit to beat the Chiefs in the playoffs, proof to Tagovailoa that being down 13-0 at halftime was something he could overcome.
“It’s nice to see someone like him continue to carry the torch from back home,” Mariota said. “He’s got a bright future and I wish him nothing but the best. . . .
“He’s done it all himself. Where he gets his humility is from his family. How he carries himself is from where we grew up. I hope he uses this as motivation to continue to get better and see how far he can take it.”
And maybe, one day Tagovailoa can even throw a pass to himself.
* (non-Central Florida division)