Tate, a recruiting target for many of the nation’s top college football programs, had pared his list in recent weeks to Maryland, Illinois and Penn State, cutting Florida, Tennessee and Ohio State from consideration. He eliminated Penn State a few days ago, and then, barely 24 hours before he was scheduled to make his televised announcement Thursday evening, he sat down with his parents and cam to a final decision.
“It was the best fit for me. I felt it was the best fit for football and academics,” Tate told TurtleSportsReport.com moments after making his announcement. “It was always back and forth, but yesterday I sat down with my parents and decided it was the right place for me.”
Tate, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior rated the No. 16 wide receiver in the nation and a four-star recruit, is a two-time All-Met selection. He will be the most highly rated high school recruit to enroll at Maryland since J.J. Justice in 2004, and the most highly rated local recruit to enroll since Vernon Davis in 2003. Illinois, which has been snagging one Washington-area player after another in recent years, turned out to be the biggest threat.
But the Terps fended off former Maryland assistant Mike Locksley thanks in large part to defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, who recruits the local private schools and formed a strong bond with Tate.
“A lot of people from Maryland are going to Illinois, but I just felt that with being at home and being near my family and my friends from DeMatha, everybody would be right there,” Tate said. “Even though [Cosh] is a defensive guy and I’m an offensive guy, we got along because he’s really down to earth.”
Tate felt the same way about Terps head coach Ralph Friedgen. Recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo and new offensive coordinator James Franklin also helped to seal the deal.
Friedgen “is a real straightforward guy like me. I like him because he tells the truth,” he said. “And having coach Franklin come in at the end was cool.”
Tate was a difficult read. Throughout his recruitment, he shunned attention and didn’t do many interviews, unlike many of his counterparts. His lack of self-promotion led to plenty of guessing about where he’d end up, and it may conceivably have cost him some points in terms of recruiting rankings, but none of that was a concern to him.
“That’s just my personality. It’s not all about me. It’s a lot of people who helped me. I didn’t want it to seem like it was me doing all of the work,” he said.
With the arrival of Tate, Forestville star Kevin Dorsey – the No. 25 wide receiver in the nation – and Virginia standout Kerry Boykins, Maryland has a class of wide receiver recruits that could turn out to be as good as any in the nation. It also won’t hurt the staff’s attempts to reload at the quarterback position next year.
“They said they’re going after some big-time quarterbacks next year,” he said.
Tate is expected to see the field next year. He’s got a combination of speed, size and aggressiveness highly unusual among high school recruits. He’s considered one of the best athletes ever to come out of Hyattsville athletic powerhouse DeMatha, which has produced droves of star athletes over the years. He has the potential to star at several other positions as well -- running back, defensive end, safety – but said he is going to Maryland as a receiver and plans to stay a wide receiver.
Tate ditched his understated approach momentarily when asked to predict what will happen during the next four years in College Park.
“The next four years? Next year we’re going to get that ACC championship, then a BCS Bowl, and then hopefully a BCS championship,” he said.
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