QB Taulia Tagovailoa cleared to play as 6 Terps players opt out

Transfer quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has been granted immediate eligibility for the Maryland Terrapins, the NCAA announced on Friday.

The NCAA's decision comes at a crucial time for the Terps who had six players opt out of the upcoming season, including quarterback Josh Jackson, the presumptive starter heading into this season.

Jackson, along with offensive linemen Austin Fontaine and Johnny Jordan, defensive lineman Jalen Alexander, defensive back Vincent Flythe and linebacker T.J .Kautai, all cited concerns over the coronavirus pandemic for their decisions.

Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, transferred to Maryland from Alabama in May. He will have three years of eligibility remaining with the Terps.

Jackson, a senior who started nine games for the Terps last year after transferring from Virginia Tech, threw for 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns, completing 98 of 207 passes (47.3%). He played in 10 total games last year and missed two because of injury.

With Jackson opting out, Tagovailoa's figures to challenge for starting duties with second-year quarterback Lance LeGendre, who was part of the 2019 class. This offseason, quarterback Max Bortenschlager transferred to FIU and Tyrrell Pigrome transferred to Western Kentucky.

Last season, Maryland quarterbacks combined to have a 32.9 Total QBR, second worst among Power 5 teams, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only Northwestern was worse.

Jordan's decision will also be impactful, as the senior is one of the team's leaders and helped navigate the group through the death of former teammate and offensive lineman Jordan McNair. Last year he started six games at center. Fontaine played in all 12 games last year as a redshirt freshman with six starts at right guard.

The NCAA also granted transfer defensive lineman Joseph Boletepeli immediate eligibility for the upcoming season. Boletepeli, a 6-foot-4, 262 pound defensive lineman, arrives at Maryland from NC State, where he saw action in three games in 2018, playing 32 total snaps and tallying two tackles.