After months of uncertainty, Maryland football got clarity on the eligibility of Alabama transfer quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa Friday.
The sophomore will be able to take the field for the Terps this season, the NCAA ruled, foregoing the typical one season waiting period for lateral-level transfers, a team spokesperson confirmed to Testudo Times.
He announced his commitment on May 15, and there had been speculation over his eligibility since. Head coach Mike Locksley coached his older brother, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, at Alabama, and developed a good relationship with the family, which he used to his advantage to land the Terps their best quarterback prospect in years.
With Josh Jackson opting out of the upcoming season, Tagovailoa and redshirt freshman Lance LeGendre are the only scholarship quarterbacks on the Terps’ roster, and they’ll compete for the starting spot. The NCAA’s ruling should give Locksley and his staff a sigh of relief, now knowing that they won’t have to rely on a walk-on to be the primary backup.
In his freshman year at Alabama, Tagovailoa saw limited action in five games. Still, he threw nine passes for 100 yards and a touchdown at a 75 percent completion rate.
He was rated as a four-star recruit and the No. 5 pro style quarterback in his class after an impressive high school career. Tagovailoa was a four year starter, spending two years at Kapolei High School in Hawaii before attending Thompson High School in Alabama.
The Ewa Beach, Hawaii, native led his team to the Class 7A Region 3 Championship and the Alabama state semifinals to earn First Team All-State honors in his first season at Thompson, which competes in one of the toughest leagues in the country. In his senior season, Tagovailoa took his team to the state championship and once again was named to the First Team All-State team.
Throughout his high school career, Tagovailoa passed for an impressive 14,207 yards and 135 touchdowns, and he also rushed for 11 scores. In doing so, he surpassed Tua, who passed for 8,158 yards and 84 touchdowns in four years in a much less competitive league — though he also added 1,727 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.
Tagovailoa’s strong arm lends itself perfectly to makeup of the Terps this season. With 12 scholarship wide receivers, including the likes of five-star Rakim Jarrett, Jeshaun Jones, Dontay Demus Jr. and DJ Turner, and only four scholarship running backs on the roster, a pass-heavy offense is expected.
However, nothing is locked in and there is sure to be a competitive quarterback battle in fall camp.