Maryland Football’s biggest announcement for next year’s roster came a few weeks ago on Signing Day from a player who’s already on the team. Star quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will return for his senior season, he announced today.
Tagovailoa’s decision is a tremendous development for Maryland. The redshirt junior had considered all options, including the NFL draft and the transfer portal, sources with knowledge of his mindset nurtured over the past month. Instead, the record-breaking Hawaiian, who scrawled his name all over the school’s record book, will return to lead the offense for a fourth straight year, adding to hopes Mike Locksley’s program can continue its positive trajectory in 2023 after the Terps recorded 15 consecutive wins in a row for the first time since 2006-2007 under Ralph Friedgen.
Tagovailoa has completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,008 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions, ranking third in the Big Ten in passing yards and helping Maryland (705 overall, 4-5 Big Ten) to seven wins in regular for the first time Season since 2014 and builds on Big Ten victories. He was better last year when he posted this 6th most yards in a season in Big Ten history, only trailing Dwayne Haskins (State of Ohio, 2018), CJ Stroud (State of Ohio, 2021), Curtis Painter (Purdue, 2006) and Drew Brees (Purdue, 1998 and 1999). he is tThe all-time program guide in the most important passing categories: yards, touchdowns, completion percentage, 300-yard passing games, total offense, and passing efficiency.
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Alongside Locksley, he was the face of the program’s turnaround, driving Maryland’s improvement of multi-year losing records for reaching back-to-back bowl games for the first time in eight years. He has not yet decided if he will return for his final season.
“I think that’s the decision that me and my family have to make to sit down and talk about things like this,” Tagovailoa said Dec. 13 when asked about moving back to Maryland. “So I think [I’ll] likely to make a decision soon, probably after the bowl game. But my biggest focus right now is the bowl game.”
Locksley said Dec. 13 that he’s expecting Tagovailoa back but hasn’t received a definitive answer from the younger brother of the Miami Dolphins star quarterback about next season Tua Tagovailoa.
“As far as I know, he plans to return,” Locksley said. “He practiced and led the charge there. We are excited. We will continue to build a system around the things he does well and continue to develop him. You know, it’s great to be able to recruit when you know there’s a second-team all-conference quarterback coming back who has tremendous ability. And, along with several others, has played an important role in improving our program.”
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Tagovailoa is along with one of two active FBS quarterbacks of the state of Mississippi Will Rogers, who holds his school’s career passing yards record despite only playing three seasons or fewer at that school. He’s had bad times too, like the five-interception game against Iowa last season and a disastrous day in Wisconsin this season. But he was the best quarterback Maryland had in decades, if not all.
“He’s a winner,” Locksley said after Maryland’s 37-0 win over Rutgers in the regular-season finals. “He’s competitive, throws the ball really well. He’s a guy who just does plays for us.”