Arkansas senior tight end Austin Tate has a couple of talented freshmen behind him pushing to take away playing time, but that's not stopping him from doing everything he can to help them do so.
Indeed Tate (6-6, 259) is doing his best to help out true freshman Hunter Henry (6-6, 245), redshirt freshman Jeremy Sprinkle (6-6, 235) and sophomores Mitchell Loewen (6-4, 271) and Demetrius Dean (6-3, 270) learn the ropes of the Razorbacks' new offense.
"Those guys are coming along great," Tate said. "As an upperclassman, I just feel like it is my duty to get them up and going and teach them the ropes. I was talking to them here and there during the summer to help them with their game. I don't know it all as much as I need to know, but we are in it together and I've just got a six-month jump on these young guys. Everybody is just trying to hit the plsaybook and get out there and show what we can do."
Tate noted that the new Razorback staff is rolling tight ends in and out to see what each is capable of in this offense.
"The thing that I have noticed with this new coaching staff is they are are trying to utilize everybody and that's what camp is about," Tate said. "They are trying to figure out what each and every person can bring to the team."
"With it being a new staff, they are starting from ground zero," Tate added. "They have got to work out every single guy – the Xs and Os, what they can and can't do, their strengths and their weaknesses. That is what this camp is about and I am looking forward to the competition and getting after it."
Tate comes into this season having played in 37 career games with 10 starts and hauling in 21 passes for 164 yards. He is still looking for his first touchdown.
That included eight starts last season while catching 14 passes for 111 yards while filling in for injured senior Chris Gragg.
"I am working on my all-around game," Tate said. "I have been here awhile and I've got my weight up, I've got my strength up and I am focusing on being a well-rounded tight end – get out in the flats, catch a pass and get up the field as well as setting the play on the edge."
Arkansas tight ends coach Barry Lunney is pleased with what he has seen out of Tate during the spring and this first week of fall practice.
"Austin brings a lot of intangiables to the position," Lunney said. "He is a fifth-year senior, from this state, grew up wanting to be a Razorback and has tasted a high level success. He got a lot of playing time last year and got some great game experience.
"Austin has some savvy about him," Lunney added. "He understands the game, he understands leverage. He understands techniques. He brings leadership in our room that I think is priceless and we move forward. Really he and (fellow senior tight end) Brad Taylor (6-4, 246) are the two guys that provide that senior leadership for us.
"Leadership is about doing your job and doing it well and it doesn't matter if you are a freshman or sophomore or senior," Lunney continued. "That is what it comes down to. We want a bunch of guys at our position to come out of this year as leaders by performing well."
Tate said that he tried his best to lead the way as have all the seniors this week.
"I feel like this week the focus has been for the older guys to set the tone and so the younger guys how to practice and that has been a big step in bringing this team along this first week," Tate said.
He is excited about putting on full pads on Friday after going two days in shorts and helmets and then two more in just shoulder pads.
"It doesn't matter if you are an upperclassman or a lower classman, you have got to stick your noise to the grindstone and get after it," Tate said. "The younger guys, they all believe that and they've got the fighting attitude and I am looking forward to putting it all together."
Austin Tate, who normally wears No. 87, wore No. 88 for his late teammate and friend Garrett Uekman.
Tate's Leading The Way
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