Taulia Tagovailoa prepares for his final start inside SECU Stadium

Before Mike Locksley arrived in College Park as the head coach, arguably the first thing that fans wanted to see from Maryland football on the field was stability at quarterback.

After a 2019 season that featured a split between Josh Jackson and Tyrell Pigrome, the Terps were tasked with finding a new starting quarterback as Locksley looked to establish a new identity in College Park.

Enter Taulia Tagovailoa.

The former top-200 prospect announced plans to depart from Alabama back in May of 2020 and it took exactly a week for Taulia to announce he’d follow Mike Locksley, the man who coached both him and his older brother during his time with the  Crimson Tide. Maryland turned to Taulia to lead the Terps into the COVID-shortened 2020 as a first-year starter, but his Terrapin debut was far from pretty as Northwestern dominated in Evanston.

Since then, Taulia has gone 23-17 as Maryland’s starter and has been an integral piece in the program reaching bowl eligibility for the third consecutive season, the first time the program has done so in 15 years.

Fast forward to now, and Taulia Tagovailoa is now prepping for his 38th career and final start after four seasons in College Park.

“It’s been a long, long journey. And you know, I’m forever grateful and thankful for everything that we’ve been through together and special group of senior guys that I’m going to be able to walk on the field for the last time, last home game with and I’m just extremely thankful and grateful and blessed that I get to have these opportunities with a great group of brothers,” Tagovailoa said Tuesday.

Taulia’s imprint on the program needs no further evidence than his imprint in the program record books. The last time that Maryland saw a quarterback throw for over 3,000 yards in a season? 40 years ago, when Scott Milanovich did so. Yet Taulia enters the weekend 231 passing yards shy of his third consecutive 3,000-yard season in a Maryland uniform, a feat that no quarterback in program history has achieved. Maryland hadn’t even had a quarterback throw for 2,500 yards in consecutive seasons before Taulia arrived in College Park the summer prior to the 2020 season.

But if there’s one thing that fans will hope for on Saturday, it’s for Taulia to guide the Terps to a signature win and first against a top-five team for the first time since 2004.

“Every game is a big game and you have to treat it that way,” Tagovailoa added. “You’ve got to prepare that way. Every game is a big game. I think this one is more special just because the last home game, senior night. Obviously, a lot of emotions are going to be around that. But at the day, the main thing is to go 1-0 at the end of the week.”

The chance to capture that signature win in his final ride at SECU Stadium isn’t lost on Taulia.

“I think it’s going to be very special. Every time you play big teams like this, the biggest thing for me is just preparation and understanding what I need to do to help my team to be successful at the end of the week,” Tagovailoa added. “And I know that a big-time win like this would be a good confidence booster for the Maryland program for years to come. But at the end of the day, we gotta go do it.”

This weekend’s test will also come against a Michigan team at the center of the sign-stealing scandal with head coach Jim Harbaugh currently not expected to be available along the sidelines. Locksley noted that Maryland “made a lot of the necessary adjustments” with their offensive and defensive signals weeks ago, but Taulia downplayed the impact on Saturday’s game.

“Usually when I when I do checks too on the field, I’ve got [to] signal to the receivers the play and stuff like that. So obviously things like that is on film. I think the biggest thing for us is, it’s a matter of just executing whatever plays given to us, regardless if they got the signal or not. We got to go and execute. They have to stop it. We got to try our best to execute the play that coaches that coach calls. All the other stuff, I don’t really know too much about it.”

While the veteran will close out the regular season on the road against Rutgers, Taulia reflected on his time in College Park.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about impacting the community, impacting people around you. And I built great relationships with a lot of good guys over here, and I think that was, that’s pretty much more so my goal.  Just you know, being a role model to the younger youth and playing the game I love.”

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