"Coach Friedgen came to be me and asked me if I would like to be a strong safety because he had some weakness there and he thought I could help," said Tate, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound freshman. "And I thought about it. He sat me and my mom and dad down and asked if I was willing to do that for the time.
"I thought it over and now I'm at safety."
The position is not foreign to Tate, who had 48 tackles and four interceptions last season at safety at DeMatha. Senior Jeff Allen figures to be the starting strong safety this season, but the position lacks experienced depth. Senior walk-on Drew Robinson is listed second on the depth chart and junior Jamari McCollough is third.
"We have a lot of good receivers on the other side of the ball that can also produce as well as I can, so I thought well, OK, let me help the team by playing safety. There's nothing wrong with safety," Tate said.
Tate had the option of staying at wide receiver, Friedgen said, and can move back if he's not comfortable at safety.
"I said, ‘If you don't want to make this move, I have other players on my team that I've asked to make moves, and they've refused and I let them stay where they are,'" Friedgen said. "I do think Kenny is excited. He told me, ‘Coach, I like playing safety, I just like playing wide receiver more.'"
It was a difficult decision for Friedgen, who recruited Tate as a wide receiver. He consulted DeMatha coach Bill McGregor before talking with Tate.
"I really was very apprehensive about talking to him because my credibility is very important to me," Friedgen said. "After spring practice I saw a spot where I thought he can help us, and maybe help us faster."
It's possible that help could come as soon as this season. "I wouldn't have moved him there if I didn't think [he had a chance to play there this year]. But I don't know that. I'm just looking at his talent," Friedgen said.
So how was Tate's first day at safety?
"I just asked him how he thinks he did," Friedgen said. "He said, ‘I think I made a lot of freshman mistakes.'"
The top three quarterbacks exceeded expectations on the first day.
"I was concerned in the spring game, I thought we were holding the ball a lot," Friedgen said.
"We were much more comfortable at quarterback. I thought our decision making was better, I thought we got rid of the ball better. I thought I saw improvement on all three of them."
With a 105-man roster limit for camp, three injured scholarship players will not join the team until school starts: redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tyler Bowen (foot), redshirt freshman defensive lineman Joe Vellano (shoulder) and freshman wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, who might have to have another foot operation.
Sophomore tight end Drew Gloster is academically ineligible for the season.
Sophomore linebacker/defensive back Dominique Herald is suspended for the first game for violating team rules.
Friedgen singled out a handful of freshmen who impressed on the first day: offensive linemen Justin Lewis and Justin Gilbert; defensive linemen A.J. Francis and Masengo Kabongo; running backs Davin Meggett and Gary Douglas; and defensive back Cameron Chism. He also said Tate worked with punt returners today.
"Saturday [scrimmage], hopefully you get a pretty good evaluation of who's gonna be able to help you and then start narrowing it down the following week," Friedgen said.
Friedgen on freshman defensive lineman Masengo Kabongo:
"I know he can speak four languages, but can he play defensive line. That maybe the only defensive lineman in the country that speaks four languages. I'm sure him and [defensive line coach Dave] Sollazzo are a match made in heaven."
Day One Notebook
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