TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa is optimistic that he will be fully recovered from ankle surgery and ready to play in the Orange Bowl.
The Alabama quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up said his left ankle will be just fine for the College Football Playoff semifinal game with Oklahoma on Dec. 29.
“I’ll probably be at 100 percent by the time the game comes,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday. “That’s my prediction. Definitely.”
He has been practicing on a limited basis since the top-ranked Crimson Tide began playoff preparations last Friday. Coach Nick Saban has said his star quarterback “is probably ahead of schedule .”
Tagovaila suffered a high ankle sprain on the opening series of the Southeastern Conference championship game Dec. 1 against Georgia. He had surgery the next day. Saban says other Tide players have returned in about two weeks from that procedure.
Tagovailoa said he has been able to do footwork drills and other work but still hasn’t been able to make cuts.
“Other than that, there’s nothing that’s hindering me too much,” he said. “It’s just the surgery that hurts. My ankle’s fine and everything’s fine. Just the scar.”
Tagovailoa will get a break after Thursday’s practice with Alabama reporting to Miami next Monday, on Christmas Eve.
He finished second to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray in the Heisman balloting, won the Maxwell Award and was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year. Tagovailoa was also the SEC offensive player of the year and a second-team AP All-American .
But hobbled early, he had his worst game against Georgia and exited for good in the fourth quarter after left tackle Jonah Williams came down on his right foot.
Tagovailoa said he didn’t think much of the left ankle injury after returning to the sideline. “I told the trainers just to tape it up,” he said.
“I felt like I hurt the team by trying to stick it out,” Tagovailoa said. “I had to make an executive decision as well if I came back in in the fourth quarter. That executive decision came down to me going back in or not. I wasn’t able to move in the pocket. I wasn’t able to extend plays with my feet when things weren’t there. That’s what you need to be able to do to work the defense.”
On Wednesday, Tagovailoa was joined by his little brother on the Tide. Taulia Tagovailoa, a four-star prospect, signed with Alabama.
“It’s just an opportunity for me and my family and my brother to just come in and learn from me, learn from our coaching staff,” Tua Tagovailoa said. “It’s just a great opportunity for him to be here. To have my brother here, it’s awesome.”
But, he made one thing clear: “There’s no competition.”