“It was crazy,” recalled Tate.” I was with my family at home. I was going crazy running around the house and stuff. That’s why I’m trying to go up there for a visit soon so I can get a feel for the campus.”
“I grew up liking (Michigan). It was my favorite team growing up.”
The Sunshine State star was introduced to the Maize & Blue the way a lot of out-region youngsters were; by watching the greatest rivalry in all of sports.
Said Tate, “when I was younger I watched the Ohio State-Michigan game for the first time and Ohio State won by like a field goal. But I just fell in love with Michigan after that.”
Next up for the talented youngster is to get up to Ann Arbor to see if the team he has always admired from afar is as awe-inspiring in person as he has imagined it.
“I’ve been talking with Coach Heck and Coach Hoke about coming to the BBQ,” he said. “I’m trying to get up there for an unofficial, but if I don’t I’m taking my official. I’m taking my official either way… even if I take an unofficial.”
Michigan is one of two definite officials that the four-star pass-catcher will take. The other will be to Florida State. Conventional wisdom is those two programs are the current leaders of the pack, but there is plenty time and opportunity for others to close the gap since he plans on taking all five of his official visits.
One of the keys to moving up (or staying atop) his leaderboard is laying out for him a plan for how he will be featured at wide receiver… not tight end.
“Coach Hecklinski tells me that he wants me to come there and replace Devin Funchess, kind of go inside out. Play a lot of slot, a lot of outside… to be a matchup guy.”
Tate showed at The Opening that he is more than capable of doing just that.
“At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Tate has a wide receiver frame but lined up at tight end and was an impossible cover for opposing linebackers,” said Scout.com analyst Greg Biggins in his feature naming Tate one of the top ten skill players at the star-studded Nike event. “Tate is a tremendous athlete who can get down the field and make plays and will be a brutal red zone match up the second he steps foot on a college campus.”
Another inevitable consideration in determining which campus that will be is the quarterback that will be charged with delivering him the ball. At Michigan there’s a strong chance that will be Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Brother Rice signal caller Alex Malzone. The four-star Wolverine commitment was also at The Opening and didn’t waste the opportunity to let Tate know just how much a priority he is for the Maize & Blue.
“He’s a car salesman,” Tate said laughingly. “He knows how to talk to people. He knows how to give you the highlights of the plays and everything. He said if I come up to the BBQ he going to be up there, so he said to come up there with him and he would show me around and all that.”
Florida State had a major advocate at The Opening as well in five-star safety Derwin James. Ultimately the decision will come down to his own impressions of the program as opposed to those that others convey to him.
“(The most significant factors in the decision will be) how I feel about campus (and) how comfortable I am with the coach,” he said How me and the coach vibe and my parents feel about everything. I want to make sure they’re comfortable as well.”
Tate insists one element that won’t factor into the comfort level for him or his family is distance.
“They’re saying it is really up to me because at the end of the day I’ve got to live with the decision that I choose,” Tate explained.” They don’t want to be too much of a hindrance or anything, but I also want them to feel comfortable with the place I’m going.”
For more from Tate be sure to view the video interview below.