Khalil Tate continues to do all the right things at quarterback for Arizona, but the freshman admits regardless of win or loss playing meaningful snaps against a dominant Pac-12 opponent in Utah last week was crucial.
“Facing them was very important to me,” Tate said. “You don’t always get to play in those types of games with a crowd of 50,000 yelling at you and talking behind you while you’re trying to stay focused just sitting on the bench. It was a great experience to be thrown out in that kind of situation.”
Tate connected with veteran receiver Samajie Grant for a 63-yard touchdown towards the end of the fourth quarter, which is something he strives to create more of in each game.
“They had a lot of safeties lined up in one on one coverages so I went for it,” he said. “We didn’t take a whole lot of chances with one on one in that game and I think it hurt us a lot. When I saw the corner get lifted off I came back and just trusted Samajie to make the play.
“It’s really just about more reps in practice and doing it all right then. When you run those same type of plays in practice, the game will be second nature. It makes things a lot easier for everyone, just not me.”
Unlike most young college football players, Tate possess a calm poise to his play and isn’t afraid to take control on the field.
“I pride myself in being one of the calmest guys on the field,” Tate said. “One thing that can help me with that is being more vocal and telling the line as loud as I can the call, so we can get the snaps off right. I was much louder this time but it just harder just because their guys were a whole lot louder than we were.”
Regarded as one of the best athletes out of Serra, Tate had a wide range of college options, but chose Arizona because of the opportunity to play quarterback.
This led to the dual-threat freshman turning down opportunities such as USC, which currently has nine of his former high school teammates on the roster.
“There’s a whole lot of them playing out there,” he said. “Rasheem Green, Jalen Greene, Olajuwon Tucker, Oluwole Betiku, C.J. Pollard, Jalen Jones, Adoree’ Jackson and much more. I was close with a lot of these guys and that’s why this game means just a little bit more.
“I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I wanted to decide my own legacy and decide my own path so that’s what I’m here to do. This game means a whole lot to me.”