A recurring series where we will profile every player and coach on Maryland’s roster, counting down to kick-off against Miami. Thanks to OBNUG for the idea.
Today we profile debatably Maryland’s most talented player on either side of the ball.
Kenny Tate, Senior, Outside Linebacker
Ratings: Four stars, #4 in Maryland, #23 wide receiver, #170 prospect in the nation by Rivals; four stars, #16 wide receiver by Scout; four stars, #19 wide receiver, #134 prospect in the nation by ESPN, #11 outside linebacker in 2012 draft class by NFL Draft Scout
40-yard dash time: 4.49
High School Stats (senior year): 32 receptions for 489 yards and six touchdowns, 48 tackles and four interceptions
High School Stats (junior year): 300 total yards of offense and seven touchdowns, one kickoff return touchdown and two punt return touchdowns
College Stats (through three years): 146 tackles (83 solo), 12 for a loss, five sacks, five interceptions (one for a touchdown), four fumbles forced, one fumble recovered, 14 pass breakups, seven punt returns for 43 yards and a touchdown, six kick returns for 84 yards
High School: DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Md.)
How’d He Get To College Park?
Tate was a very highly-recruited prospect out of DeMatha at wide receiver, gathering more than 100 scholarship offers to play at the college level. Among schools that offered him include Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and Virginia Tech. Tate eventually narrowed his list down to Illinois, Penn State, and Maryland, and ended up choosing the Terps thanks to the proximity to home and the academics in College Park.
Although he was recruited as a wide receiver, Ralph Friedgen immediately moved him to safety, thanks to a lack of depth in the secondary and a good amount of experienced receivers. At 6’4″, 220 and with strength, speed, and most importantly football smarts, he turned out to be the perfect fit at free safety, and was one of the best in the country at the position last season. And yes, I might be a tad bitter that they moved him to linebacker.
More after the jump.
Kenny “McCormick” Tate
I want to say the Miami game,where he recorded 12 tackles in a Maryland loss, or even the Florida State game last year, where had the biggest impact of any Maryland defender with seven tackles, an interception, and a crushing hit stick blow on Taiwan Easterling. Here’s a link to nearly every play he was involved in during that game – it’s pretty damn impressive (besides the second play).
But the only right answer, of course, is the 4th and goal stop at the end of the Navy game. Here’s that lasting image:
His total disappearance in the Cal game of 2009. Although I guess that applies to every Terp on that team.
Arbitrary Top Five List:
Last five consensus first team All-American selections from Maryland:
1. E.J. Henderson
2. J.D. Maarleveld
3. Dale Castro
4. Joe Campbell
5. Randy White
Tate adjusts perfectly to the linebacker position, being named a consensus first-team All-American and eventually getting selected in the top five of the NFL Draft.
Tate struggles so much at the new position that they move him back to free safety, where he settles back into 2010 form.
Well, here it is, the most hotly contested position change of all the ones that took place with the new coaching staff at Maryland. Kenny Tate, one of the best safeties in the country and a Lott Trophy Watch List player, is going to be playing linebacker this year. Well, linebacker is a stretch.
Tate will be playing the new STAR position, one of two manly-men names brought over by Todd Bradford (along with ROCK) that can only be typed in all-caps. STAR is a safety/linebacker hybrid position that relies on the players to have good coverage skills and be great at rushing the passer. Kenny Tate is a safety/linebacker hybrid who has good coverage skills and is great at rushing the passer.
On paper, this looks like nothing much is going to change. Towards the end of last year, Don Brown used Tate either on the line or rushing right off the end of it with increasing frequency, and he played kind of a Rover position to fill the pass-rushing void left by the injury to Desmond Kearse (now the third-stringer at STAR). Tate thrived in the role, posting his best season by far and vaulting himself into the national conversation (see: Lott Trophy Watch List).
While we said yesterday that Demetrius Hartsfield is Maryland’s most important player on defense, there’s no doubt that Kenny Tate is their best one. His rare combination of size and football smarts is something to be contested with on any level, which is part of what makes him such an intriguing NFL prospect.
Bottom line, don’t let that “linebacker” tag scare you. Sure, while Tate was big for a safety he would be undersized for a linebacker, but he’s a linebacker in name early. If this STAR position is anything like we’ve heard it’s going to be, Maryland is just going to have Kenny Tate doing what he does best – being Kenny Tate. He’ll be allowed to roam around the defense, knock Taiwan Easterlings unconscious, and pick off a few passes before calling it a day.
Our next profile is on someone who was the defensive coordinator for Maryland’s previous defensive coordinator at a head coaching stint.