The inaugural Polynesian Bowl is set to kickoff Saturday at Aloha Stadium, with or without two of its star attractions.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returned home to Hawaii on Wednesday night from Alabama and will be at the event. But as of today it was still unknown if he will play in the high school all-star game.
Polynesian Bowl officials learned Tuesday that the five-star Crimson Tide recruit who led Saint Louis to a state championship last fall might not be eligible because he is already enrolled in classes at Alabama.
“We’ve appealed to the NCAA and are still trying to get a ruling,” Kevin Kaplan of the Polynesian Bowl and Polynesian Football Hall of Fame said before today’s practice.
There is precedent for early college enrollees to play in high school all-star games, Kaplan said.
Tagovailoa said he does have the blessing of his new coach, Alabama’s Nick Saban, to play in the game.
“We talked to Coach Saban about that before committing,” said Tagovailoa, who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 6, before he started classes at Alabama. “I really want to play, but it’s important for me to be here even if I don’t, to show my support for the event and for all kids of Polynesian ancestry. I’m not too sure if I’ll get to play, but we’re still trying.”
Tagovailoa is on the roster of Team Mariota, named for its honorary captain, Marcus Mariota.
Mariota participated by Skype in Monday’s player draft in Waikiki, and picked Tagovailoa, his fellow Saint Louis graduate. But because of recent surgery, it was uncertain if the Tennessee Titans quarterback and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner would be able to fly to Hawaii for Saturday’s game.
Mariota suffered a fractured right fibula Dec. 24 in Tennessee’s game at Jacksonville and underwent surgery the next week.
The game will feature 20 players rated in ESPN’s top 300 rankings and 37 of the top high school football players from Hawaii. Six Washington commits, five Michigan commits and three commits to both Oregon and Southern California are in the game, along with many of the top undecided recruits remaining.