Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was named as the Maxwell Award winner Thursday night as the best all-around player in college football this season, besting Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray and West Virginia quarterback Will Grier.
For a star-laden and unbeaten Alabama team, Tagovailoa nonetheless stood out. The sophomore quarterback threw for 3,353 yards, 37 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 2018, completing 67.7 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 190 yards and five scores.
In the process, Alabama went undefeated, won the SEC and returns to the College Football Playoff seeking a sixth title in the past 10 seasons.
Tagovailoa appeared to be the front-runner for many of college football's postseason awards heading into the SEC title game—and has already won the Walter Camp Award—but he left the contest in the fourth quarter with Alabama trailing by seven points. His replacement, Jalen Hurts, led the Crimson Tide to a comeback victory, putting Tagovailoa's status in the eyes of various award voters in question, especially after Murray tore it up in his own conference championship (379 passing yards and three scores).
Nonetheless, there's little question Tagovailoa was truly one of the sport's elite players this season.
Murray was incredible himself in 2018. The Oklahoma quarterback already claimed the Associated Press Player of the Year award, and it's possible his hardware will continue compiling throughout the winter as he's a finalist for the Heisman Trophy alongside Tagovailoa and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Murray, a junior, threw for 4,053 yards, 40 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, completing 70.9 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 892 yards and 11 scores, leading the Sooners to a 12-1 record, a Big 12 title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
In the process, he made the transition from last year's Heisman winner and No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Baker Mayfield, as seamless as possible. Murray did it all while playing what may only be his second sport, as he plans to play baseball, and not football, professionally.
He was already drafted by the Oakland Athletics. But if the baseball career doesn't work out, he has quite the backup plan in football.
As for Grier, the senior quarterback posted excellent numbers for West Virginia, throwing for 3,864 yards, 37 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 67 percent of his passes. West Virginia's three losses in its last six games took the Mountaineers out of contention for the College Football Playoff, however, and in the process made Grier a longshot for the Maxwell.
Still, he put together an excellent 2018 campaign—one that should make him a high pick in this year's NFL draft. B/R's Matt Miller projected Grier to land with Washington at No. 16 overall in his latest mock draft, noting that he became "more accurate while getting rid of the ball faster in a West Virginia scheme that now closely resembles NFL offenses" this past year.
The future appears to be bright for Grier.