Thursday, April 26, 2018
Colleges

FSU receiver Auden Tate looks for breakout season

TALLAHASSEE — When Auden Tate began seeing himself as the next Kelvin Benjamin, the Wharton High four-star receiver wasn't envisioning Benjamin's two so-so seasons at Florida State. Tate was fixated on the third year, when Benjamin finally turned untapped potential into unstoppable productivity during the Seminoles' 2013 national title run.

So as Tate enters his third fall at FSU, of course the 6-foot-5, 225-pound junior is striving for his own Benjamin-like breakout for a team with championship expectations.

"It's always in the back of my mind ..." Tate said.

Whether Tate can make it happen will help determine whether his Seminoles live up to their top-five billing and preseason College Football Playoff projections.

A week into preseason camp, Tate's position group remains one of FSU's biggest question marks, beyond the fact that the 'Noles lost all four players who caught at least 30 balls last season.

With Da'Vante Phillips indefinitely suspended after being charged with five felonies last week, FSU has only six receivers on scholarship (excluding cornerback Malique Jackson, who began practicing with receivers last week). Of those six, three have never caught a college pass, and a fourth (East Lake High product George Campbell) has caught only three.

"This is as thin as it's been since I've been here," said receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey, who joined the 'Noles from USF after the 2006 season. "It's going to be a challenge."

And that's why Tate is one of FSU's most vital players, just below quarterback Deondre Francois and do-it-all safety Derwin James. He and junior Nyqwan Murray are the team's only somewhat proven commodities, and Tate's larger frame (6 inches taller, 49 pounds heavier) gives him a higher ceiling, especially at a program that traditionally has one of the nation's top red-zone offenses.

"He is a special player, man," sophomore receiver Keith Gavin said.

Tate began to show that at the end of his sophomore season. After catching only nine passes through the first eight games, he caught 16 over the final five.

Through two years, Tate's statistics compare favorably to Benjamin, the Panthers' 2014 first-round pick. But Benjamin didn't explode until the second half of his third and final season, when he scored touchdowns in each of the last six games, steamrolled the Gators for 212 yards and caught the winner in the BCS title game.

Tate might not be far behind.

"He's getting very close," Dawsey said. "KB was a little more bigger, more physical part of it, but ball-catching skills, running routes — Auden Tate's right there with him."

For FSU to be successful, he has to be, which is why Tate spent all offseason preparing for that extra responsibility.

Tate's weight is about the same, but he has replaced fat with muscle. His knowledge of the offense has increased; instead of only knowing his routes, he understands how his routes and roles fit into the rest of each play. His timing has improved through more repetition with Francois, and coaches have praised his consistency since the spring.

Two years into his FSU career, Tate said he has matured past the star-eyed dream of becoming FSU's next Kelvin Benjamin by focusing on himself alone. But Tate does want to make the same third-year leap that Benjamin made — the one that captivated him as a high school star in Tampa.

"I would love the jump that he had …" Tate said.

If he can make it, FSU will be poised for its own jump, back into the national championship conversation.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

 
Comments
Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Aside from former Florida State safety Derwin James, the most likely first-round pick from a state college is ex-Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan.He hopes, at least."That would (stink) if I didn't," Bryan said last month at Florida's pro da...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The case for the Bucs and NFL draft prospect Derwin James

The case for the Bucs and NFL draft prospect Derwin James

The best weapon against the NFL's evolving offenses, Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher said, is a defender who can do it all — someone who can cover a tight end, shadow a receiver or blitz the backfield."The way the game is played now on defense," Fishe...
Published: 04/25/18
ESPNís Rece Davis on hosting College GameDay from the NFL draft

ESPNís Rece Davis on hosting College GameDay from the NFL draft

When ESPN's Rece Davis heard about the idea for boosting the college football insight into the NFL draft, he didn't need any convincing."My immediate reaction was, this is a no-brainer," Davis said.Davis will spearhead the network's overdue look at t...
Published: 04/25/18
ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway's off-field struggles continue.ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday evening that Callaway tested positive for marijuana at the NFL's scouting combine.Former Florida WR Antonio Callaway -- who some cons...
Published: 04/24/18
Report: Florida Gatorsí Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Report: Florida Gatorsí Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Florida Gators defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will be out four months after having surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week, according to a report Wednesday evening from the Gainesville Sun.Jefferson, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound senior, injured th...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Tuesday evening's news that quarterback Jake Allen plans to transfer from the Florida Gators isn't a surprise.Allen, a former three-star recruit in 2017, was fourth on the depth chart. The St. Thomas Aquinas product didn't seem to fit new coach ...
Published: 04/18/18
Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

When former Wharton High star Auden Tate hears his name called sometime next week, he'll join a surprisingly small group.Recent Florida State receivers drafted into the NFL.Over the past decade, only two Seminoles receivers have been drafted: Rashad ...
Published: 04/18/18
Police suspected FSUís Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Police suspected FSUís Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Tallahassee police suspected Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois possessed marijuana with the intent to sell it when they executed a search warrant on his home last week, according to an affidavit.The case — which culminated Thursda...
Published: 04/17/18
Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Even as Florida State was finishing its first recruiting class under Willie Taggart, the Seminoles were already talking about what they could do in the new staff's first full cycle, for 2019."I can only imagine having a year here to be able to recrui...
Published: 04/17/18
Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

TALLAHASSEE – Florida State running back Khalan Laborn's breakout 140-yard output in Saturday night's spring game was a sign of what could be for the former blue-chip recruit.It was also a reminder of what almost wasn't for the Seminoles.With a...
Published: 04/16/18