ATLANTA ― Alabama freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa plays for the team that hopes to dent Georgia’s national title hopes Monday night.
When he takes the field, he’ll look to the opposing sideline and see his very good friend, Jake Fromm. There will be a hard-fought game between the two teams. But between the two quarterbacks, it is far from a bitter rivalry.
Those two know each other better than that.
“I think this is an amazing opportunity for me to be able, to just be able, to compete with Jake again,” Tagovailoa said at media day in advance of the National Championship Game. “This guy is such a humble guy. Amazing dude. He is the type of person that you create a friendship with for a lifetime.”
Alabama’s talented freshman regards Fromm as one of his best friends in college football. He said that he could only think of one other player in college football he knows the way he does Fromm.
That’s his Alabama roommate, Najee Harris.
“The only other guy I know like Jake would be Najee,” Tagovailoa said. “He and I are on the same team. That’s the only guy.”
It is a unique friendship. The Georgia freshman hails from Middle Georgia. Tagovailoa is from Hawaii. He plays the ukulele, sings like a pro and is almost always smiling.
Those two got to know one another on the recruiting trail at the Elite 11 quarterback competition. They saw each other again at Nike’s The Opening last summer and again at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January 2017.
“The relationship that Jake Fromm and I created at the Elite 11 just hasn’t stopped,” Tagovailoa said.
Jake Fromm and Tua Tagovailoa are on similar career arcs
When Fromm de-committed from Alabama, that opened the way for Tagovailoa eventually to choose Tuscaloosa as his college home.
Fromm and Tagovailoa both enrolled last January. They both wound up choosing a program that showcased a talented freshman starter in 2016.
Tagovailoa’s role in support of Jalen Hurts is an alternate reality: Is that what Fromm’s season would have been like had Jacob Eason never sustained that injury against Appalachian State?
That question will never have an answer, but Tagovailoa still has enjoyed watching his friend excel for the SEC champions.
“He’s been very composed,” Tagovailoa said about Fromm. “What he has done this year hasn’t shocked me or anything. If you know who he is and how he works, then this was kind of something you would expect from somebody like Jake. He’s very deserving of all this. Just a very hard worker and a great leader for his team.”