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Alabama’s football team faces yet another looming quarterback battle

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And it is not between Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts

Liah Tagovailoa at the Elite 11
Bud Elliot

With the Elite 11 going on in the high school summer camp recruiting circuit, the names of big time QB’s are all over the news. Most years, Alabama has one commit or major target competing in the semi-finals, and every couple of years they get a guy in the finals. Recently, both Blake Barnett and Tua Tagovailoa have won the Elite 11 MVP trophy at the end of it.

It’s not perfect, but the list of Elite 11 MVPs that have gone on to be successful quarterbacks is more impressive than the busts. Sean White, Jameis Winston, Jeff Driskel, Aaron Murray, Blaine Gabbert, Matthew Stafford, and Mark Sanchez have all headlined the group of MVPs.

This year, however, something is a little different: Alabama has two future commits in the ring. Even more interesting is that both of them have strong family ties— and therefore expectations— tied to the Alabama program.

Taulia Tagovailoa is the younger brother of current Alabama quarterback and National Championship hero, Tua Tagovailoa. He’s a 4-star recruit and the #8 overall Pro-style QB in the nation.

Our own Bud Elliot with SBNation managed to get flash his media creds in the Elite 11 and took some of my questions with him to the Tide commits:

Bud: So was there talk with your brother, about do you want to follow in his footsteps? Or was there ever a question?

Liah: There was a question, with me and my family talking about it. They feel like it’s a good decision. I know I can learn more and more and get better from being with Tua and Jalen Hurts too.

His counterpart is a guy named Paul Tyson. Another 4-star and the 12th overall pro-style QB, Tyson hails from the Birmingham area. Oh, and he’s the grandson of some dude named Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Bud: Obviously, how much pressure is it to live up to the legacy of your name?

Tyson: Really, it’s not as much as you think. Honestly I’ve just had it all my life and I’ve really thrived in the pressure that comes with it. I honestly feel like it makes me a better person, a better player overall, and just a better quarterback and helps to motivate me.

Both are exceptional QBs with a lot of arm talent. Liah is smaller, standing only 5’11”, but is much more mobile in the pocket with that uncanny Houdini-like escapability, while Tyson is a more prototypical 6’4”. They’re each talented, but in their own ways:

Bud: What’s the best part about your game and what’s the one part you’re trying to work on?

Liah: [Tries to evade answering]

Bud: Like what’s the part you’re real confident about. Like if you had to describe your own scouting report, what’s teh main strength?

Liah: I think leadership through hard work for sure. And I think one thing that I really need to work on is my posture and my footwork and my patience on top of that.

Bud: Watching your film, you seem to have a real knack for throwing the ball down the field. Where’s that come from?

Tyson: Really just repetition and learning from the best coaches out there just like these guys right out here. I mean they definitely helped me out and made me into the man I am today.

They’ve both spent the past weekend with the best quarterbacks and coaches in the nation and learning all they can. Tyson in particular had a lot to say about how much he has grown and learned just from being a part of it all:

Bud: What are you learning most out here?

Tyson: Taking it all in and enjoying and competing. I guess just them perfecting my drops, perfecting the way I throw the ball, and perfecting me as an overall quarterback.

Bud: What have you learned about yourself?

Tyson: Just to know that I am definitely a competitor. I want to be a guy who’s going to compete and be one of the best out here and learn from the best.

After the first weekend, though, Tagovailoa advanced to the finals with 11 other high school quarterbacks while Tyson was left on the outside looking in. But he’s still in the mix of things with other camps in the recruiting circuit and working as a defacto recruiter for Alabama as his side job:

Bud: So putting on your recruiter hat, who’s the top 2 or three kids you’re trying to get to come to Alabama?

Tyson: Clay Webb out of Oxford. We got Jameson Williams, the receiver out of St. Louis. Receivers-wise, it would be great if we could get Haselwood from Cedar Grove, Georgia, that would be great. We got Pickens [an Auburn commit]. I mean, it’s Bama. I think we got a shot at everybody

For all that, though, there’s one major elephant hanging out in the room: why are both QBs committing to play for Bama, when both know that only one will get playing time? (And neither will get it soon, considering that Tua Tagovailoa is only a sophomore).

Bud: Where’s that belief in yourself come from that you can beat out Liah and all those guys and be the dude there [Alabama]

Tyson: Really that’s what came in with me going to commit there. Honestly, I maybe could have gone to other places that I could have played earlier… an easier route… but I wanted to go to Alabama, the place where I really wanted to be. No matter the competition I’m going to go out there and compete and play to the best of my ability and just be able to have a fair shot.

And for Liah:

Bud: So where does that drive inside you come from that makes you say “I’m going to compete against Paul” and obviously your brother and all that. Where does that come from?

Liah: I think it comes from my upbringing. My parents raised me to compete. Competition will help you-- that’s one thing my dad always says.

Both players expect to win out. And, there’s a good chance that 2-3 years from now, we have a total breakdown of sanity on internet forums about which one we want to be the starter, and which one is going to transfer.

In either case, the future of Alabama football continues to look bright.