Emmanuel Acho: Tua Tagovailoa Should Return For Senior Season


A former linebacker feels that NFL teams should take Tua Tagovailoa off their big boards, but not because he'll be gone quickly in next spring's draft.

Speaking on ESPN's Get Up! on Thursday, Acho argued that the best thing that injured Alabama quarterback can do for his football career is return to Tuscaloosa for his final season.

"It pains me to say this, (but) I think Tua has to go back to school," Acho says. "It's because, monetarily speaking, what does Tua have to lose by going back to school? If he gets hurt again, he already has the injury notion that he is very injury-prone. But if he goes back and he plays clean, we're talking about $15-plus million guaranteed."

"Here's the difference", Acho continued. "If you're a second-round pick, you don't have that guaranteed money. If you're a first-round pick, you do have that guaranteed money. I am not for college athletes going back typically, but in this case, Tua has more to gain by going back."

Tagovailoa underwent successful hip surgery this week after leaving last Saturday's game against Mississippi State with an injury. While The Sporting News dropped him out of their first round entirely in their latest mock draft, CBS Sports had him going to Oakland Raiders with the 20th pick.

Going back to school has indeed haunted players in the past. USC quarterback Matt Barkley, for example, was seen by many as the top quarterback prospect of the 2012 NFL Draft before he opted to return to Los Angeles for his senior year. Barkley threw for 36 touchdown passes, but a shoulder injury late in the regular season played a part in his subsequent drop to the fourth round in 2013's edition.

Acho's fellow panelists, including reporter Maria Taylor, NFL insider Adam Schefter, and former NBA player Richard Jefferson quickly disagreed with him.

"He's going to back to bet on himself in a losing situation," Jefferson said. "Yes, he might move up a spot, but he might move down a spot. If he goes (to the NFL), he can now rehab full-time, 100 percent of the time, have an NFL team that is there to help him strengthen and get better."

Tagovailoa is out for the season due to the injury. His Crimson Tide will take on Western Carolina on Saturday afternoon.