When Tagovailoa began varsity football in high school, he threw for 33 passing touchdowns during his first season with three interceptions and 2583 passing yards. Tagovailoa said a big inspiration and motivation for his performance was how his father disciplined him, saying he used a belt whenever Tagovailoa threw an interception. In 2016, Tagovailoa played in the Army All-American bowl game, a high-school football all star game and in his regular season threw for 2669 passing yards with 27 passing touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He was also chosen to be a part of the Elite 11 roster as one of the elite high-school quarterbacks and was MVP of that roster. In 2017, he was ranked as the number one high school player in the state of Hawaii of the Class of 2017 and attended Saint Louis School[when?] in Honolulu, the same school as Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota where Mariota served as a mentor to him when they were growing up in Hawaii. He had 17 offers from colleges to play on a college football scholarship, including UCLA, Oregon and Colorado, eventually enrolling in the University of Alabama on 1/8/2017 and committing to play there starting from 2017.