Xavier Smith: Always stay ready

Xavier Smith • Updated Jan 10, 2018 at 1:00 PM

We’ve all heard the expressions, “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” and  “in order to be a good No. 1, you have to be a great No. 2.”

The message is clear – be prepared for any situation. If the NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship taught all of us one thing, it was that lesson. 

If you didn’t watch the game, or fell asleep before the second half, I’ll give a brief recap. With Alabama trailing, 13-0, at halftime to Georgia, head coach Nick Saban pulled starting sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts in favor of freshman Tua Tagovailoa. 

The latter led Alabama to a second-half comeback sealed by a walk-off touchdown throw in overtime, propelling him to legendary status in the eyes of some.

Tagovailoa wasn’t a well-seasoned freshman, having only played in seemingly meaningless minutes throughout the season, although he was heralded as a top quarterback prospect coming out of high school. 

Most people, including Tagovailoa, probably, believed he was a better quarterback than Hurts, although he never got his big opportunity – until one half remained in the Crimson Tide season. 

It was evident Tagovailoa didn’t spend the entire summer and season pouting about his lack of opportunities to display his skills. It’s also obvious that he didn’t just accept his role as the backup quarterback.

Monday night’s game showed that no matter how gloomy the situation may look, if you have faith and prepare for your time, your opportunity will present itself when it’s supposed to. 

We develop certain habits over our lifetime – how we like to eat food, our favorite place to watch TV on the couch and routine for getting ready for our day in the morning. 

However, certain habits, such as how we respond to adversity, can shape our entire life and future. It appears, and I’m no expert, that Tagovailoa’s habits didn’t just start when he got to Alabama. His habits, including his attitude, seemed to work together like a well-oiled machine. 

The reason I say his habits looked like they’ve been in place for a long time is because of the two final plays of the game. 

In overtime, essentially needing a touchdown after faith in Alabama’s kicker diminished, Tagovailoa took an ill-advised sack that put the Tide in a second-and-26 situation. 

The next play, Tagovailoa found DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard score. Habits either break down or stand firm in times of extreme pressure. Tagovailoa’s demeanor and attitude didn’t change after he took the sack, which could mean he’s either faced this type of pressure before (highly unlikely) or prepared with this type of pressure in his mind. 

His throw, a beautiful bomb right on target, showed that he was physically prepared for the moment. He was prepared to watch from the sideline as his team lost another national championship. He was ready to win. 

He was ready to win because of preparation habits. 

Xavier Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.

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