The college career of Taulia Tagovailoa, considered by many to be the best quarterback in Maryland football history, is officially over. Terps head coach Mike Locksley announced Tuesday that Tagovailoa will not play in the team’s upcoming bowl game.
Maryland will participate in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 in Nashville, Tennessee, marking the program’s third consecutive bowl appearance. It’s the first time since 2006-08 that the Terps have qualified for the postseason in three straight years, but the undisputed face of Locksley’s rebuild won’t be in uniform when his team faces Auburn.
A native of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, Tagovailoa started his college career at Alabama, where his brother, Tua, was the starting quarterback and Locksley served as offensive coordinator the season prior. After appearing in five games as a freshman, Tagovailoa followed Locksley to Maryland, where he immediately assumed starting duties in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
Tagovailoa’s 2021 campaign, his first full season as a collegiate starter, was the most productive ever by a Maryland quarterback. He set single-season program records for passing yards (3,860), completions (328), completion percentage (69.2%) and touchdowns (26), leading the Terps to their first bowl win in 11 years.
He continued to put his stamp on the program over the following two seasons, finishing his career ranking first in Maryland history in career passing yards (11,256), completions (955), completion percentage (67.1%) and passing touchdowns (76). Tagovailoa’s career passing yards total is the most in Big Ten history.
Despite his production, Tagovailoa is not considered a surefire NFL draft pick. At 5-foot-11, he lacks prototypical NFL size, and questionable decision-making — he threw 37 interceptions in 41 games at Maryland — has raised eyebrows. This year’s quarterback class is also projected to be among the deepest in years, with some mock drafts predicting as many as seven quarterbacks selected in the first two rounds.
No Maryland quarterback has been selected in the NFL draft since 1991, when Scott Zolak was taken in the fourth round by the New England Patriots.
In addition to Tagovailoa, Maryland is expected to be without a number of other impact players in the Music City Bowl. Eleven Terps have entered the transfer portal, including starters Corey Dyches (tight end) and Jaishawn Barham (linebacker) and rotation pieces such as defensive back Gavin Gibson, linebacker Riyad Wilmot and cornerback Corey Coley Jr.
Additionally, defensive back Tarheeb Still announced that he is declaring for the NFL draft. Safety Beau Brade — considered Maryland’s top prospect in next year’s draft — is reportedly planning to play in the bowl game.
Locksley has made it clear he considers bowl games the beginning of the following season, and opt-outs have previously allowed for Maryland to give playing time to those that project to contribute down the line. With Tagovailoa out of eligibility, the Terps will have an opportunity in Nashville to get an early glimpse at their quarterback options for 2024 and beyond. That position battle is expected to consist of backup Billy Edwards Jr., former four-star recruit Cam Edge and NC State transfer MJ Morris, who announced last Wednesday he will play for Maryland next season.