When you have zero career college starts, 77 total passing attempts and have yet to officially lockdown a starting job on your own team, you typically aren’t a Heisman Trophy candidate — that is, unless your name is Tua Tagovailoa.
The sophomore quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide continues to compete with incumbent starter Jalen Hurts, but all signs are pointing to Tagovailoa supplanting the redshirt junior, and now he’s the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, too.
According to the Las Vegas Sportsbook, the Ewa Beach, Hawaii native now has the best odds of anyone, including Stanford running back Bryce Love and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, to take home college football’s top individual accolade.
This all comes despite Tagovailoa not definitively being Alabama’s starter yet, as well as not having a single win as a starting quarterback under his belt in college football.
Proven quarterbacks like Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Arizona’s Khalil Tate, Penn State’s Trace McSorley, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, and West Virginia’s Will Grier all rank behind a sophomore with zero career starts.
Is Tagovailoa overrated as a Heisman candidate? Probably.
Alabama’s balanced offensive scheme, relying heavily on its rushing attack in the punishing SEC, doesn’t aid well to a Heisman campaign predicated on gaudy offensive numbers being first and foremost.
But, is Tagovailoa overrated as a player? Absolutely not.
The St. Louis High School graduate was the No. 1 rated dual-threat quarterback of the 2017 recruiting cycle, and the top player in the state of Hawaii, according to 247 Sports.
The southpaw has a rocket for an arm, and it only took 24 throws in the College Football Playoff national championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs to convince the college football world that Tagovailoa is for real.
It’s unheard of for Tua Tagovailoa to be getting this praise.
The top three favorites to win the Heisman Trophy heading into the last five seasons include:
2017: Sam Darnold, Saquon Barkley, Baker Mayfield
2016: Leonard Fournette, Deshaun Watson, Christian McCaffrey
2015: Trevone Boykin, Ezekiel Elliott, J.T. Barrett
2014: Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Braxton Miller
2013: Johnny Manziel, Braxton Miller, T.J. Yeldon
Tagovailoa is the first unproven player to be ranked this high in the preseason Heisman odds in years. He hasn’t done much, but you wouldn’t know it from his lone half of championship-caliber football.
So, is Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s sophomore phenom, the most overrated player in college football?
Not a chance.
With expectations like this though, the kid has A LOT to prove in 2018 to merit this preseason hype.