Then everything changed in the second half and overtime of the national championship game in Atlanta.
Down 13-0, Nick Saban replaced Jalen Hurts with the true freshman and watched him throw three touchdowns with the final one hitting DeVonta Smith in stride to give Alabama an epic 26-23 comeback victory.
Suddenly, the Hawaii native became an instant folk hero in the state of Alabama and the people’s choice, but if Saban starts Hurts instead in the 2018 opener, will he ultimately lose the No. 1 player on this list?
Dimensions: 6-1, 218
2017 numbers: 49-of-77 (63.6%), 636 yards, 11 touchdowns, two INTs; 27 rushes, 133 yards, two TDs.
Why is Tagovailoa important? Saban saying Tagovailoa gave the Crimson Tide “a spark” in the playoff title game is a huge understatement.
Simply put, Tagovailoa’s the biggest reason Alabama won.
He came off the bench to throw for 166 yards and three touchdowns to one interception on 14-of-24 passing. Connecting with more than just one receiver, Tagovailoa showed how explosive Alabama’s passing game could be with him leading the offense.