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QB Taulia Tagovailoa will return to Maryland for his senior season

Maryland's Taulia Tagovailoa concluded the season with a win over North Carolina State in the Duke's Mayo Bowl. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will return for his senior season, he announced Wednesday. In three seasons as the Terrapins’ starter, Tagovailoa has elevated the program while setting multiple school records. In 2023, he will have a chance to further solidify himself as the most productive quarterback in Maryland history and to help the Terps reach new heights.

Tagovailoa became Maryland’s all-time leading passer during the 2022 season. After three years with Coach Michael Locksley in College Park, Tagovailoa has tallied 7,879 passing yards and 51 passing touchdowns, both school records. Tagovailoa’s most productive season came in 2021, when he set the single-season records for passing yards (3,860) and completions (328) and tied the record for passing touchdowns (26). Tagovailoa was limited by a knee injury and missed one game in 2022. He finished with 3,008 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“Who knew a kid from Hawaii could find a home in Maryland?” Tagovailoa said in his announcement on Instagram. “But that’s exactly what I’ve found. … My goal coming here to Maryland was to help Coach Locks turn this program around. After winning back-to-back bowl games, I believe everything is going in the right direction. But we’re not done yet. I’m not done yet.”

Tagovailoa earned second-team all-Big Ten honors in 2022. His steadiness and production have provided a significant boost for Maryland, which had been plagued by injuries and instability at quarterback before he arrived as a transfer from Alabama. The 2023 season will be Tagovailoa’s final year of eligibility. He is one of many players who have taken advantage of the fifth season of eligibility granted to college athletes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland caps eight-win season with bowl victory and a bath of mayo

In 2022, Tagovailoa led the Terps to an 8-5 record; those eight wins were Maryland’s most since it notched nine in 2010. Maryland has steadily improved since Tagovailoa arrived and has earned back-to-back bowl berths for the first time since 2013 and 2014.

Tagovailoa did not start Maryland’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl win over North Carolina State last month. Locksley indicated that he benched Tagovailoa for the opening drive after a minor violation of team rules. “Sometimes you’ve got to do things to send a message,” Locksley said afterward. In a departure from its typical setup, Maryland did not make Tagovailoa available to speak with reporters after the game.

Tagovailoa will have a mostly new cast of wide receivers next season. Dontay Demus Jr., Rakim Jarrett and Jacob Copeland announced they will enter the NFL draft. Jeshaun Jones, Maryland’s leading receiver in 2022 with 557 yards, has a year of eligibility remaining, but he has not announced whether he will stay at Maryland. The Terps may end up relying heavily on less experienced wideouts, including Tai Felton, Octavian Smith Jr., Leon Haughton Jr. and Shaleak Knotts. Maryland added Florida International transfer Tyrese Chambers, a Baltimore native who had 1,618 receiving yards over the past two seasons, and West Virginia transfer Kaden Prather, a former Northwest High standout who had 501 receiving yards in 2022.

The Terps also lost standout tight end CJ Dippre, who transferred to Alabama. Corey Dyches, a tight end who had 494 receiving yards in 2022 as a redshirt sophomore, should be back next season.

Tagovailoa, whose brother, Tua, plays quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, transferred to Maryland after the 2019 season because of the family’s relationship with Locksley, who coached Tua at Alabama. (Maryland offensive coordinator Dan Enos also worked with Tua as Alabama’s quarterbacks coach in 2018.) Taulia started his college career with the Crimson Tide, appearing in five games as a backup in 2019.