Talented Zebras Struggle Out of Gate

Pine Bluff junior safety David Beasley (6-2, 185) and junior defensive end John Tate (6-4, 247) - two 2016 prospects Arkansas has interest in - didn't get their 2014 season off the way they wanted do on Friday night at Fort Smith Northside, but are expected to lead the Zebras to a successful campaign this season.

FORT SMITH - It seems appropriate that the most exciting play in Pine Bluff’s season-opening 26-15 loss at Fort Smith Northside on Friday ended up being wiped out by a penalty.

Zebras junior safety David Beasley (6-2, 185) caught a booming punt over his shoulder at his own 3, sidestepped the first defender and raced some 57 yards down the left sideline.

But the penalty kept Pine Bluff – regarded as the Class 6A South favorite and a state title contender - deep in its own territory on a night when it had six turnovers and a plethora of flags in the 2014 season opener.

“I received the ball and I saw the man about five to ten yards from me I just made a move and got a couple of yards and saw the opening and hit the hole,” said Beasley, who got his first college offer from Arkansas State on August 30.

Beasley – who had 30 tackles, 18 passes broken up and an interception last season - is one of four Pine Bluff juniors getting at least some recruiting attention from Division I schools.

The others are defensive end John Tate (6-4, 247), quarterback/cornerback Ladarius Skelton (6-2, 195) and running back/linebacker Romar Reades (5-9, 195) - all who hope lot lead the Zebras to a state title this season after three runner-up finishes.

The Razorbacks have expressed interest in Beasley and Tate, whose team lost a key player this spring when tight end Will Gragg moved to Dumas after his dad was named Superintendent there.

Beasley got a call from Arkansas assistant coach Barry Lunney last week and the Sept. 1 contact period rolled around and Razorbacks could begin contacting juniors.

“He said he’s going to watch the film (of Friday’s game) and he said I have three tickets to any home game,” Beasley said. “I’m going to the one against Georgia (in Little Rock) with Tate and I’m gong to the Alabama game (in Fayetteville) and another game.”

Beasley feels like he come into this season as am improved player.”

“I feel like I’m a better cover man,” Beasley said. “They moved us down to eight yards so we can play the run better. I’m going to come for tackling. I want to have at least 80 tackles this year or more.”

But Beasley was disappointed in his effort on Friday - the first trip back to Northwest Arkansas since Pine Bluff ended Greenwood's 50-game win streak on a last-second field goal in the Class 6A semifinals.

“I expect to be a leader this year,” said Beasley, whose team lost to conference foe El Dorado 31-24 in the state title game. “I’m trying to step up. I’m disappointed, I think I played a bad game today. I feel like a played a bad game I feel like this loss was my fault.”

Beasely expects to get more attention from colleges if he grades improve during this school year.

“I have to bring my grades up I have to get my ACT score up My grade point average I have to get that up to 3.0 or better,” Beasley said. “My momma has been pushing me and I’ve been doing homework every night. I’m trying to be an all around.”

Tate – the son of former Arkansas State basketball player John Tate – has an offer from Louisville and is getting recruiting attention from Arkansas, Ole Miss and Auburn.

Lunney also made contact with him last week.

“Coach Lunney, he messaged me he asked me how I was doing and if I was ready for the game today,” Tate said. “ He wanted me to know I can come to any home games that I want to.”

Tate will see an Arkansas game or two and may also visit Auburn, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State and he thinks the Tigers and Cowboys may be close to offering.

Tate was thought of as a tight end prospect mostly as a sophomore, but spent almost all of his time at defensive end on Friday night and said he now considers that his main position.

“I see myself improved,” Tate said. “ My reads are better. I’m bigger so I can fight the blocks Better. Last season I was inexperienced. I know what’s coming.

“…Coach Lunney said he didn’t know where he’ll play me at, but many people think of me as a D-end I guess,” Tate added.

Tate’s dad is former Arkansas State basketball player John Tate.

“People say I’m going to get tall but I really don’t know how tall I’m going to get,” Tate said. “Time will tell with that.”

John Tate

David Beasley

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