Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was planning to transfer before he came off the bench to lead a dramatic rally and power Alabama to victory in the national championship game in January.
Had Tagovailoa never entered the game, he was planning to leave the Crimson Tide, according to a report by HawaiiNewsNow.com.
Speaking to a group of middle-school students in his native state of Hawaii, Tagovailoa said he was planning to leave Alabama after his freshman season if he didn't play in the championship game against SEC rival Georgia.
"I called my dad and asked him if my offer to the University of Southern California was still available," Tagovailoa said, per HawaiiNewsNow. "I wanted to leave. I told my dad I wanted to go to a school where I thought it'd be easier for me and wouldn't challenge me so much."
Tagovailoa helped Alabama erase a 13-point, second-half deficit for the 26-23 win over Georgia. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 166 yards with three touchdowns against Georgia, including a game-winning 41-yarder.
"Even throughout my football season, I wasn't the starter," Tagovailoa told the students. "I wanted to leave the school. So I told myself if I didn't play in the last game, which was the national championship game, I would transfer out.
"If I gave in, I don't think I would have seen the end blessing of where I am now."
Injuries throughout the spring have hindered Tagovailoa's bid to supplant Hurts as the starter entering the 2018 season, but last season's experience has him more determined to stay the course.
"My mentality doesn't [change]," said Tagovailoa. "I just got to keep working."