SAN JOSE, Calif. – For much of the 2018 season it seemed Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was a shoo-in for the Heisman Trophy. But, because of nagging injuries he finished second in the running despite a tremendous season.
His legend began by winning the national championship for the Tide last year with a long touchdown pass in overtime to beat Georgia.
This year, No. 1 Alabama faces off with second-ranked Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Santa Clara.
Both teams cruised to the title game, dominating anybody in their paths. Now the Clemson defense is faced with its toughest task of the year, slowing down Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide offense.
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins is well aware of the challenges the sophomore quarterback presents and is jumping at the opportunity to face a player of Tagovailoa’s ability.
“He’s such a great player, obviously. He is really talented and he definitely makes that offense go. He’s special,” the Clemson defensive tackle said.
Special is a good descriptor of Tagovailoa, who has completed 69.5-percent of his passes for 3,671 yards and 41 touchdowns while rushing for 199 yards and five touchdowns. Not only does he contribute with his own ability, but opens up lanes for the Tide’s running backs bolstering their offense.
As for Wilkins, the All-American had an incredible season with 5.5 sacks and 14 tackles-for-loss earning him unanimous All-America honors as well as Wilkins has enjoyed watching Tagovailoa’s game tape and is looking forward to the challenge of facing one of the nation’s top quarterbacks.
“You never know what to expect from a player just watching highlights and things like that, but when you actually break down the film and watch a player and try to learn all you can, you know, and pick up the tendencies, man, this dude is really special,” Wilkins said. “He’s fun to watch, and I’m excited and looking forward to the opportunity to go up against him.”
The the national championship game kicks off at 8 p.m., EST, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.