Auden Tate was arguably the most impressive player during Florida State's spring game, and that will have a big impact on Florida State's wide receiver corps during the 2016 season. Tate, 6-foot-5, 218-pounds, had 6 catches for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns during the game, and his final touchdown, reminiscent of Kelvin Benjamin's touchdown at Clemson in 2013, has everyone excited for his future.
Tate still has a lot of room to grow. In fact, he ran the wrong route on that touchdown catch. He was supposed to run a slant, but mixed up his signals. Luckily, quarterback Deondre Francois was patient enough to wait for Tate to make his break, and then threw a ball where only Tate could get it.
"He missed a signal on that last play, on that fade, he was supposed to run a deep slant and he didn’t see the signal and ran it but here’s a great example," Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He ran a fade and here's what I was saying where 12 grew up. It’s easy when you’re a young quarterback and a guy don’t do what you’re supposed to do you just freeze up and don’t do anything, he reacted and then Auden made a phenomenal catch. The play itself was phenomenal. That was a great play. But you saw his body size, you see hwat he has a chance to be and he’s gotta get better. He’ll keep polishing those routes but that big body and those hands, he can be a weapon for us.”
Coach Fisher was pleased with the result of the play, but that didn't stop him from getting on Tate about his mistake.
"He got on me about it," Tate said. "Yeah, it’s a touchdown, but I shouldn’t have been there. Against a good team, against a real good team, it might not work out like that. I’ve still got to put that on myself to run the right route."
The play worked out, and that's something that Florida State fans will be able to look forward to after lacking that type of receiver in 2015. Inside the red zone last year, Florida State quarterbacks completed just 48.9 percent of their passes. They scored 11 touchdowns on 45 red zone passes. A lot of that had to do with the lack of a red zone target. While Travis Rudolph, Kermit Whitfield, and Bobo Wilson were all good in open space, their lack of size did not give them the advantages that Tate would have in the red zone.
Despite the Seminoles needing a big red zone target, Tate redshirted last season. He didn't like it at first, but came to realize why it was needed. He embraced the extra time to learn, and it has paid off this spring.
"It was at first, because coming in you expect to have a role," Tate said. "I learned – it was all good for me. I ended up learning. I ended up seeing everything. I was able to work on myself, my routes, all that stuff. I feel like it actually benefited me."
Florida State needed a receiver to step up this season if they wanted to return to championship form. Tate isn't all the way there yet, but he just took a giant leap forward with his performance not only in the spring game, but this spring as well.