Tua Tagovailoa has declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, announcing on Monday his decision to turn pro despite a serious hip injury that ended his 2019 season.
Once regarded as the likely top pick in the 2020 class, the Alabama quarterback's hopes of being selected first overall were effectively ended when he dislocated his hip in a game against Mississippi State in November. That led to speculation Tagovailoa could return to Tuscaloosa for another season, but he put an end to that talk in a media conference on Monday.
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"It was a really hard decision, going through my rehab and talking with my parents about it, it's been tough, I have been going back and forth," he told reporters gathered at a news conference. "I'm content with the decision that I've made, it's more so what's next that I'm thinking of, what's next with this process.
"I'm optimistic that I'll be able to play this upcoming season. I'm more so worried about getting better as soon as possible — if I can do a pro day, if I can't do a pro day, it's really all dependent on what the doctors say to the teams."
Asked if he was confident of being a high pick in the draft, Tagovailoa replied: "I don't think I could tell you that, I don't think any of the teams can tell you that. It really depends on how the doctor's report goes at the three-month mark."
Tagovailoa won a national championship with Alabama at the end of the 2017 season, coming off the bench to replace Jalen Hurts and leading the Crimson Tide to an incredible 26-23 overtime win over Georgia.
He guided them back to the national championship game in his first season as a starter the following year, but Alabama suffered a chastening 44-16 loss to Clemson.
His injury curtailed Alabama's hopes of returning to the title game this season. Tagovailoa ends his collegiate career with 7,442 passing yards, 87 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions.