7:00 A.M. (EASTERN TIME)
- Heather Dinich
ESPN Senior Editor
- University football journalist
- Member of ESPN.com since 2007.
- Graduated Indiana State University.
- Cameron Wolfe
ESPN Staff Writer
- The Denver Post did a story about the Broncos for two seasons.
- Graduated from the University of Houston
- Born in Jackson, miss.
One second after Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovayloa scored an eight-yard touchdown for Jake Funk on Friday-evening to take a 7-0 lead over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Gal Tagovayloa’s cell phone rang in the stands of Capital One at Maryland Stadium.
It was his other son, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovayloa on FaceTime.
Tua called us, he clapped and went crazy, his father said.
It’s Tua, says her little brother. She’s probably my biggest cheerleader besides my mom.
Even from 1,000 miles away. But that’s not surprising, because the Tagovayloa family always finds a way to fill the void. Galu and Diana Tagovayloa, who moved with their whole family from Hawaii to Alabama to be closer to Tua when he played for coach Nick Saban, traveled there this weekend to see their two sons win at the highest level in the sport. During the pandemic. With grandparents from Hawaii. And a brother-in-law who drove two giant Tua pit bulls, Dallas and Star, from Alabama to Miami.
They’re not dogs to me, Taulia’s frozen. It’s me and the children of Tua. Have you seen the dogs? They’re big boys.)
Two days after Taulia organized an exciting fourth-quarter comeback to beat Minnesota 45-44 in overtime and Friday night at College Park for his first win as a starter, Galo Tagovayloa of Maryland would gather an estimated 30 to 40 friends and family in Miami to witness Tua’s first NFL start – a 28-17 victory over Los Angeles Ramsey.
It was the end of a four-day, three-day, two-day trek through Tagovailoa, which covered more than 2,500 miles. It all started on Thursday when Galu and Diana, together with their eldest daughter Taylor and Diana’s parents, tested negative for KOVID-19 in Alabama before flying to Maryland. On Friday night, they watched as Taulia, a transfer from Alabama, scored five touchdowns in her devastating victory over Minnesota, an amazing reversal of her performance on three interceptions in the 43-3 season opener, a first season loss from the northwest. On Saturday they flew to Miami, where they immediately went to the KOVID 19 dolphin test site to return to their hotel and wait for the results on Sunday morning.
After finishing the game, they saw Tua score his first touchdown in the NFL.
Two brothers, once teammates in Alabama, now go their own way with their respective teams, but they are forever linked to Tua’s success – the barometer with which Taulia, rightly or wrongly, will always be measured – and to the strong family that has supported her every step of the way.
They’ll drown if they see us, Gal says. It’s all about family. Told us about Taulia’s game and how happy she is for Taulia. Before we left, Taulia told me many times: Man, Dad, I can’t wait to see Tua play. I’m so excited. Because they’re so close. They want to be there to support each other, but they can’t because of everything that’s going on.
Instead, the rest of the family found a way to support them both – for a weekend that was a win-win situation for all concerned.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Diana and Galu Tagovayloa travelled more than 2500 miles to see their two sons, Tua (pictured) and Taulia, who played soccer last weekend for the Miami Dolphins and Maryland Terrasins respectively. Polished Tagovayloa
Looking for more playing time – and disappointed by the lack of training in the spring of this year to win it in Alabama – Taulia went into the transfer portal and ended up with former Alabama attack coordinator Mike Loxley, who is now head coach in Maryland. Loxley’s relationship with the Tagovayloa family through the recruitment and training of the two brothers, and Taulia’s knowledge and understanding of their attack system, made Terps’ entry into the sidelines a natural progression.
After he made his decision and logged on to the portal, I hoped we could benefit from that part of the relationship. Knowing which types of Tua numbers were entered into the system was what we were trying to sell: If you come here, it’s the same system, Mr Loxley said. We had no idea he’d end up here. It’s a close and strong family. When Tua went to Miami, I thought that might be a factor, but we hired him very quickly once he logged into the portal and tried to sell it in the system, and I think because the family is based on faith, they had a lot of faith in me, in our system, and in our program.
And Loxley continued to believe in Taulia, despite her terrible start against the northwest. Friday-evening against Minnesota, the quarterback seemed calm, composed and able to be anything that goes with the last name on a T-shirt. It wasn’t a flawless feat – it was Taulia’s turn when the defender flipped the pass on the screen to intercept it – but he ended the game with nearly 400 yards and three touchdown passes and two extra points on the ground.
Everyone was so shocked that he played like that because of the way he played his first game. And what I told people, I was more shocked by the way he played in the Northwest than the way he played against Minnesota because it’s the way he trained, it’s the same drilling and playing that he did in practice,” Locksley said. Friday night was more what I was used to seeing, and the last Saturday against Northwest was hopefully an anomaly.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Second quarterback Taulia Tagovayloa threw 45-44 Maryland in overtime against Minnesota for 394 yards and three touchdowns on Friday. AP Photo/Julio Cortez
It wasn’t until around 11pm on Friday, after the match, that Taulia saw her family for the first time that weekend, as everyone followed the COVID-19 protocol and remained separated the day before the match.
They make up for lost time.
Taulia and her father talked endlessly – about the game, about Tua – and listened to music as they drove through College Park at dawn and stopped at McDonald’s because it was the only place open.
We’ve been up all morning, Gal says. As soon as he arrived at the hotel, we talked about the game, what he had to work on; and he told me how his week went, how he and the boys had worked hard, watched the movie, reread the game plan, and looked at the game plan. It was awesome. I didn’t sleep until Saturday night.
The flight from Baltimore to Miami left Saturday at 9:00.
For the first game of the NFL on Sunday at 13.00 hours, Tua loudly warmed up the field and completed the warm-up. A video booth at Miami Gardens Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Florida) allowed dolphin fans to watch their franchise quarterback cut out of the show. Then it was possible to hear a louder collection of greetings, because Dan Marino, the best player of the Dolphins in the history of the franchise, who currently plays the role of team advisor, was watching Tagovayloa on screen.
In this context, the pressure to be Tuareg cannot be clearer. Dolphin coach Brian Flores picked him up surprisingly after the sixth round when the team was 3-3 and veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played well. Many are waiting for 5th place in the overall NFL ranking in 2020 will be the rescue of a franchise stuck in the mediocrity and mishap of quarterbacks, especially since Marino’s retirement in 2000.
But Sunday was in Tua and not Marino.
It was Tua’s first appearance in a football match in 351 days, when he suffered a devastating hip injury in Alabama that threatened to end his playing career. Tua did not play his best opponent with the Rams, as he scored 93 yards in passing, but he still won his first victory. Tua said we have good protection, thank God.
His first touchdown in the NFL Tua would have sent a wide receiver past Devante Parker under the slanting goal line. The signalman said he’d keep the ball. Tua took another step he had taken for himself: playing a full 60 minute game.
It really was a trip. I really think about the injury when I get hurt and the process that allows me to walk again, do soccer drills and generally just do things, Tua said. Anyway, I’m thinking about the process I’ve been through. I’m really glad I can still be here and play the game I dreamed of as a child.
The first fall of Tua on Sunday caused a terrible silence in the stadium. He tried to get in his pocket, but the Aries defense caught Aaron Donald and tore up the soccer ball, while his DT teammate Michael Brokers picked it up – and as Tua described it, he hit my body pretty hard.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Rookie quarterbackTua Tagovayloa finished his first start in the NFL with 12 of 22 assists in 93 yards, a touchdown and a zero interception in week 8 against the Ramsees. Allen Eastone/Palm Beach Post
We may not have learned much about Tua in his NFL debut, but we did learn that he and his surgically repaired hips can take a beating.
It’s a good shot. It’s soccer, Tua says. I’m not gonna lie… I liked it the first time I got hit. It was a very welcome hospitality.
After his first NFL fight two weeks ago in the garbage can against the New York Jets, Tua came back to the field in great shape and sat on the 15-yard line at Hard Rock Stadium for 10 minutes to absorb it all. Then he confronted his parents, who were not present, and shared an emotional moment with them.
During that video call after the game they told him they were proud of him, Diana cried and everyone remembered the difficult journey. But on Sunday, both parents, along with agents, pastors and other family members, watched Tua’s first touchdown pass and his first victory in a sequel to Miami Stadium.
When I came here [to Miami], I was excited about having another son, Galu said. I talked to him and explained his game plan and what he was doing. It was good. On the other hand, Lea was in a good mood, Tua was in a good mood. You’re very helpful.
After the match, Tua didn’t want to go to dinner because of problems with Cowid-19, so everyone went to Tua’s house in South Florida to rent the whole weekend.
The Tagovayloa brothers make their name known in the sports world.
I look at Tua, says Taulia. That’s the man I’m trying to be. Everything he does, I want to do. With everything he does, I feel like I can do it. Tua, he’s the best quarterback I’ve ever seen. The best big brother in my eyes, all for me. All this stuff… Anyway… equations and all that. I can’t get involved in this case.
Tua immediately became the most famous dolphin player when he was called up in April, before playing Snap. He burst as a debutant in the 2018 national championship game that led Alabama to the title and helped transform the Crimson Tide from an old school to the high-flying air raid we know today. But through all the praise and the sublime brand image of the early years, Tua’s modesty shines through.
What helps me is my family. My family’s not too big on hype and stuff. Instead of being a good son to them, Tua said. Often when I come home and talk to my parents on the phone, they don’t always want to know how the game went. They just want to get to know me as a person.
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As far as Taulia is concerned, last weekend he not only announced himself as Tua’s younger brother, but also as his own name. Despite the fact that they continue to distinguish themselves separately, the brothers find themselves in very similar situations – they become the face of programs that desperately need a quarterback who can get his team out of mediocrity. Like the Dolphins’ fans longing for the next Marino, the Terps fans have not seen a consistent game in position since coach Ralph Friedgen was fired in 2010. Since 2016, seven different players have started as quarterbacks for Maryland.
There’s no doubt that Leah has the capacity and skills to succeed in this system, but it has to do so consistently, Loxley said. I think he’s the quarterback for the franchise, but he has to come and show it.
Whatever happens, the Tagovayloa family will remember their 2-0 Halloween weekend forever.
It’s a blessing, Taulia said. I feel like God works in mysterious ways. This happens to be a great weekend for us. It was a great weekend in Maryland. I knew Tua would do her thing on Sunday. The way it happened is a blessing. I know my parents are happy for us, and that’s what’s most important to us.