Nick Saban Says Tua Tagovailoa Is 'Durable' amid Injury Concerns Ahead of Draft

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 14, 2020

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) warms up before an NCAA football game against LSU Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

Alabama head coach Nick Saban came to the defense of Tua Tagovailoa in the wake of concerns about his durability leading up to the 2020 NFL draft.  

Appearing on ESPN's First Take, Saban explained that some of Tagovailoa's injuries are the result of trying to do too much:

"I think that Tua is a durable guy; he's a hardworking guy; he's a very physical built guy. I think, you know, Tua is a great competitor, and I think that if you look at a lot of the injuries he's had here, and just about every one of them, it's because he is a great competitor, and a lot of quarterbacks would have thrown the ball away already, you know when he maybe got hit late in a down. Both of his ankle injuries and his hip injury all came late in a down where you could argue that: 'Why do you still have the ball? The play is dead, why don't you just throw the ball away?' And I think that this is something that he needs to learn, you know, how to do, because he's such a great competitor; he wants to make a play."

As the draft has gotten closer, there have been multiple reports of teams being concerned about Tagovailoa being able to stay healthy. 

Last week, former NFL general manager Mike Lombardi said on his GM Shuffle podcast (h/t Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press) that "two teams I've talked to have flunked him...(based) on the multitude of injuries.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. noted in his most recent mock draft that there's buzz about Justin Herbert going to the Miami Dolphins at No. 5 overall because Herbert "doesn't have the durability concerns that have a few teams worried about Tua Tagovailoa's future."

During an Instagram Live on Friday (h/t ESPN.com), Tagovailoa downplayed the notion he's injury-prone:

"[Football] is a physical sport," he said. "You're gonna get hurt. That just comes with it. And it was just very unfortunate that I got hurt every season. It's a part of the game. It's a contact sport. I can only control what I can control. I can't control that."

Tagovailoa's final appearance in a college game saw him dislocate his hip and fracture his posterior wall against Mississippi State on Nov. 16. He previously ha two sdeparate high ankle sprains in 2018 and 2019 that required surgeries. 

In March 2018, Tagovailoa suffered a broken bone in his index finger during Alabama's spring game.

When Tagovailoa was on the field for the Crimson Tide, he was one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football over the past two seasons. The Hawaii native threw for 6,840 yards, 76 touchdowns, nine interceptions and had a 70.0 completion percentage in 24 games since the start of 2018.