Two years after Blake Barnett won the Elite 11 MVP while Calvin Ridley won the Opening MVP, another Alabama commitment, Tua Tagovailoa, sauntered into the mix and won both with one fell swoop. If I'm doing the math correctly, that means Alabama commits have won four of the last six The Opening and Elite 11 MVP awards. Now THAT is some star power on offense.
Tagovailoa is one of the top-ranked QBs in the recruiting class of 2017, and, after this spectacular performance, I would not be surprised to see him climb even further up the recruiting boards to become a 5-star prospect. He led his team, "Vapor Speed" to a win in the most prestigious 7-on-7 tournament in the entire nation. The best part? That team was comprised mostly of Alabama commits.
John Garcia, Jr. of Scout.com put together a really useful video below of every single one of Tagovailoa's throws from the championship game. It's not a highlight video, but one of true game film. Be sure to show him some support for actually putting this gem together.
Tua is already recognized as a top-notch dual-threat QB who is extremely dangerous when running with the ball in his hands. But his stellar performance this week has answered to many that he can thrive in role as a pure passer.
Meet Tua Tagovailoa, Elite 11 2016 MVP-Bleacher Report
James, noting Tagovailoa's strengths as a runner and his success in a spread scheme, admits he was skeptical about his fit with Alabama after he committed. However, he's now a firm believer that Tagovailoa can beat teams from the pocket with his arm and his mind.
"After what I've seen from him that weekend in L.A. and being with him the last five days, I'm so impressed with him and I think the sky is the limit for him," James said. "If he gets in that offense and he does what he did here, watch out."
Tua has been mentored through much of his high school years by Marcus Mariota, the Hawaiian, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback that is now the starter for the Tennessee Titans. One can easily see the parallels in the pair's games, though Mariota was a much more refined thrower. With his southpaw, darting throwing motion, Tua reminds me of a cross between Mariota and former NFL star Michael Vick.
With Blake Barnett and Jalen Hurts already in the wings, Tua Tagovailoa will only add more firepower to a loaded QB arsenal at Alabama. If any one of these touted signal-callers pan out, gone will be the days of the stigma of a "limp-armed game manager" as the Tide quarterback.