Taulia Tagovailoa played one season at Alabama and appeared in five games. In a backup role, Tagovailoa completed 9 of 12 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Tagovailoa, a four-star recruit in high school, will compete for the starting job at Maryland this season.
“He has that infectious personality that players gravitate to him,” Locksley said of Tagovailoa. “He came in with the right mentality that, ‘I’m nobody different, I’m here just to be a member of this team.’ … He’s assimilated really well with his new teammates. Had the opportunity here the last few weeks to just see how he interacts. I know he’s made the quarterback room better.”
The Terps have two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster: Tagovailoa and redshirt freshman Lance LeGendre.
LeGendre, who was part of Locksley’s first recruiting class as Maryland’s head coach, played in three games last season. He attempted three passes and completed one, but he rushed for 104 yards.
Tagovailoa has an impressive high school resume — he threw for 3,728 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior in 2018 — while LeGendre has the benefit of having spent the last year in Locksley’s system at Maryland. Tagovailoa has some familiarity with Locksley’s system because he spent his freshman season at Alabama, where Locksley helped mold the offense until 2018.
“Lia has tremendous, tremendous hands in the [run-pass option] world and great vision, great leadership ability,” offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery said Friday. “Can really throw the football in the intermediate level, down the field. Really, really pleased with where he is physically, but probably the most pleasing thing of it all, I’m thankful that he knew our system.”
Montgomery said that Maryland has tweaked the system Locksley ran at Alabama, but Tagovailoa “has picked up the playbook as fast as anyone that we’ve had in the program. He has more knowledge right now than our guys did last year coming in even with the spring under their belt.”
Maryland quarterback Josh Jackson, who won the starting job in 2019, opted out of playing this season. Jackson, who transferred from Virginia Tech before last season, performed well in Maryland’s first two games of the season but then struggled in Big Ten play. Jackson finished the year completing 47.3 percent of his passes and throwing for 1,274 yards. He was briefly sidelined by an ankle injury, and Tyrrell Pigrome started in his place for three games. Pigrome transferred to Western Kentucky following the 2019 season.
After holding voluntary workouts this summer, the Terrapins began fall practices Friday. The conference suspended all athletic activities March 13, a week before Maryland planned to start spring practices, so the team has not practiced together since last November. The Terps will have four weeks of practice before the season opener Sept. 5 at Iowa.
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