Tate has been considered a long shot to lace up his cleats for the Tar Heels ever since he committed back on Dec. 3 as a four-star athlete that starred at Cartersville (Ga.) High School at quarterback and safety. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was widely considered the top position player in June's Major League Baseball draft, and San Diego selected the 18-year-old outfielder with the No. 3 overall pick.
"We've had excellent dialogue with Donovan and his mother Traci over the last several weeks and throughout the course of the summer," Davis said. "It was a little bit of a shock to Donovan that he got drafted as high [as he did]. He had no idea. They thought that he would get drafted in the first round, but for him to be the third pick in the draft – I don't know that they envisioned that particular scenario."
The reason for Tate's arrival in Chapel Hill is likely nothing more than a leverage play for top agent Scott Boras, who is pushing the cash-strapped Padres for a signing bonus in the $5 million range. Most baseball players don't have the luxury of excelling in a different sport, and Tate's potential indicates that he can make future money in football as well as baseball after three years of college ball.
There's nothing quite like a legitimate alternative option to help persuade San Diego's front office to cut a deal by the Aug. 17th deadline. Add in the fact that Boras also represents the top-two picks of the draft in Stephen Strasburg (Washington) and Dustin Ackley (Seattle) – both unsigned – and it appears as Tate is merely playing the money game.
But Davis doesn't believe Tate has decided his future – yet.
"He has stated emphatically that the reason he chose North Carolina [is that] he wanted to be a college student," said Davis, who added that Tate would start off at quarterback. "He wanted an opportunity to play big-time college football and to play on a big-time college baseball team. He still is in love with Carolina. But he doesn't know right now. So it's all kind of somewhat up in the air… He's got torn convictions. He's a special, unique kid."
Former UNC baseball player and current football starting cornerback Kendric Burney indicated that he would be surprised if Tate was on the sidelines for North Carolina's season opener against The Citadel on Sept. 5.
"I actually just got off the phone with him right before camp," Burney said. "I'll probably talk to him later on right before we go to practice. He said he would be down here tomorrow. But every guy has to make his decision, and I wish him the best both ways. But I definitely don't think he'll be coming to school."