Marcus Mariota was raving.

It was at a New York Marriott Marquis restaurant overlooking Times Square two years ago. At a Heisman Trophy luncheon, Mariota wanted to talk about anything but his trophy chances.

There was a kid back in the islands, Oregon's quarterback gushed, who was the next one to follow him. On Oahu, Mariota had been tutoring a quarterback prospect named Tua Tagovailoa.

That day it was almost an alert from Mariota: There's this guy behind me ...

The lefty they simply call by his first name (Tua) is now finally about to arrive on the college scene, signing as an early entry this month. That's not quite the news as Tua prepares for Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

It's that he's staying with his original commitment to ... Alabama.

"Tua, he's locked in, done deal," said Nalu Tagovailoa, the quarterback's father.

That's the Alabama with the All-SEC true freshman quarterback (Jalen Hurts). That's the Alabama counting on Hurts' presence for the next two years -- at least. That's the Alabama chasing another national championship next week largely because of Hurts.

Tua is not only aware of the Alabama quarterback situation, he intends to fully immerse himself in it.

"There have been people talking to him about rethinking his commitment. ... But he's just so stuck in his decision," Nalu said. "He's not just going up there for football.

"There's more to life."

That's noble. It's also totally against the modern quarterback culture.

Nick Saban has had three quarterbacks transfer this season because Hurts has blossomed. (Cooper Bateman and David Cornwell will stay through Monday's College Football Playoff championship game.)

Just to be clear: Tua remains committed to Bama despite the possibility -- probability? -- Hurts could start for the next three seasons.

"What really drives him there is the relationship with the coaches, how honest they are," Nalu said of his son. "You be honest with me and my family, and we'll do the honest thing. If he doesn't get the job, we'll support the guy who gets the job."

And that is that? As of right now, yes. The Tagovailoa family has fallen in love with Tuscaloosa -- a mere 4,300 miles away from the islands. Tua has fallen in love with Bama, Saban and the coach who recruited him, outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi.

"I was kind of like, 'Wow, we've got to the No. 1 team in the nation calling us. Who wouldn't want to be part of that?'" Nalu said.

Loyalty seems to be an issue with the modern college quarterback . If they ain't startin', they're usually departin'. Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin lost two celebrated blue-chip prospects in December 2015.

Oklahoma's Trevor Knight was available to fill in as a graduate transfer. That was after the emergence of Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma forced the Big 12 to take a special vote on his eligibility.

And that's just a snapshot. The modern elite college football quarterback, in general, doesn't enter situations like Alabama's.

He finds the path of least resistance -- where he can play right away.

Not Tua.

"The best thing about competition: You either deal with the heat or you get out," Nalu said. "I think we're in the perfect situation to go out there and compete. See where it takes Tua -- if he is the No. 1 [dual-threat] quarterback in the nation."

Nalu works in a Pearl Harbor shipyard. A younger son, Taulia, also has an Alabama offer. The family is so enamored with T-town, they might move there to watch their sons play.

"We talking about [staying] six or seven years," Nalu said.

"That little place we stayed on campus," he added, "Nick's church is right next to it."

Before this season, the mere thought of Saban running a spread offense was unheard of. Alabama's coach then actually committed fully to it in 2016.

Hurts was the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2016. Being a freshman, he was a long shot to start right up until the season opener against Southern California.

Entering that game for the third series, Hurts promptly fumbled the ball away. But by the end of September, Blake Barnett, who started that game, had transferred to a junior college.

A few weeks later, it was evident Hurts had become one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.

"It takes a special person to come here and play," Hurts said.

That special person is on his second offensive coordinator. Steve Sarkisian has taken over for Lane Kiffin. Basically, Hurts has learned the position -- and fought through those distractions -- in the context of chasing a national championship.

The common perception is that once Hurts becomes more savvy reading defenses, he'll compete for more than SEC honors.

If he can he hold onto the job.

"You can't be complacent in this league," Hurts said. "I know we're [SEC] champions now, but we're not done. We have to keep pushing."

Mariota has been right about his prodigy. Tua won another state championship for Honolulu's St. Louis High School in November. The nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback (No. 33 overall prospect, per the 247Sports Composite) completed 68 percent of his passes during an 11-1 season.

Nothing is certain for Hurts or Tua except some sort of quarterback battle -- beginning this month when winter conditioning begins for 2017.

"Honestly, there is no concern," Nalu said. "We're there to support. We're there to be a part of the history of what Alabama is about."