Former Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate is participating in the College Gridiron Showcase, an all-star event for college seniors in Fort Worth, Texas. And let there be no doubt: Tate is participating as a quarterback.
Tate told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he plans to pursue a pro career as a QB. Given his skill as a runner and his up-and-down performance as a passer at Arizona, some have suggested Tate’s best path would be to play wide receiver. Others, such as former Ohio State star Terrelle Pryor, have made that transition successfully.
Asked by the Star-Telegram if he had interest in doing receiver drills, Tate said: “Nah, that’s not my plan. Not at all.”
Tate said he wanted to show scouts “that I can throw. The stigma behind me is that I’m just a runner. But when I get out here and spin the ball in front of them, it opens their eyes. That’s something that they didn’t know I could do.”
Tate had a record-setting season as a sophomore in 2017, rushing for 1,411 yards and 12 touchdowns. He fought injuries the following season and struggled at times to adjust to a new offense under Kevin Sumlin and Noel Mazzone. Tate rushed for only 224 yards but set career-high passing marks with 2,530 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Tate began his senior season looking like a true dual threat. He rushed for 100-plus yards in two of Arizona’s first three games and threw for a career-high 404 yards at Colorado on Oct. 5 as the UA started 4-1.
Tate and the Wildcats then hit a wall. He struggled to move the offense against Washington and USC and ended up sharing time with freshman Grant Gunnell until the season finale. Arizona lost its final seven games. Tate passed for 1,954 yards but threw nearly as many interceptions (11) as touchdowns (14).
Regarding the transition from Rich Rodriguez’s scheme to Mazzone’s, Tate told the Star-Telegram: “Going from an offense that was real run heavy to one that had a lot of passes was different. But it’s something you have to do as a quarterback. You’ve got to be able to adjust and perform to the best of your abilities.”
Tate is hopeful the success of Lamar Jackson will make NFL teams more open-minded. Jackson won the Heisman Trophy at Louisville but entered the NFL with concerns about his accuracy. He led the Baltimore Ravens to the No. 1 seed in the AFC in his second season and is the front-runner to be named league MVP.
“I feel like it’s perfect timing,” Tate said. “He’s doing really well.”