As 2015 wide receiver Auden Tate sat flanked by his parents in the principal's conference room at Wharton High School for his commitment ceremony Tuesday, his mother Nicki admitted to the crowd of people that spilled out into the hallway that she didn't think the day would ever come.
Just four years ago her son — who had always been a small child — tried out for the Dutch Fork Middle School football team and was cut.
"I was like, 'Well, baby, maybe you'll try a different sport,' " Nicki Tate recalled.
But for Auden Tate, that moment only made him want it more.
"It made me real hungry," he said.
In the years since, Tate went from being a kid his middle school team didn't want to a four-star recruit with offers from 20 Division I programs.
And Tuesday morning, in front of a crowd of more than 60 crammed into the small room in the school's front office, Tate announced his commitment to Florida State, peeling off his T-shirt to show one from the defending national championship underneath.
Tate, who still plans to take official visits to FSU and Michigan this fall, said his decision came down to the Seminoles or Maryland — making him one of several top recruits in the Tampa Bay area considering the Terrapins.
In the end, Tate said interactions with strength and condition coach Vic Viloria helped him make up his mind. Viloria, he said, didn't fill his head with what could be empty promises; all he guaranteed him was an opportunity to compete for a spot on the field.
With numbers like he put up last season for the Wildcats, that's exactly what Tate could do in Tallahassee.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound junior had 49 receptions for 815 yards and five touchdowns in 2013. And despite Wharton bringing in two new young quarterbacks this season, Tate said he doesn't expect his output to change.
"They're going to progress a lot, so it's my job to help them feel comfortable in the offense," he said. "But I feel like they know what they're doing."
Nature Coast: Offensive tackle Christian Pellage will announce his college commitment at 2 p.m. Friday at the school's gym.
The three-star 2015 prospect said he doesn't have a list of finalists, but he holds more than two dozen offers, including Florida State, Florida, Alabama and Ohio State.
The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Pellage was No. 13 in the Tampa Bay Times' HomeTeam 100 list of the area's top football players.
Rivals considers him the country's No. 40 offensive tackle and the state's No. 58 overall recruit; 247Sports also ranks him among the top 60 players in the state and at his position.
Dudley headed to hall
St. Petersburg City Council chairman Bill Dudley, formerly a longtime wrestling coach at Northeast High, will be inducted into the Florida chapter of the Wrestling Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort in Orlando.
Dudley is one of seven who will be inducted. The other local inductee is longtime referee John Niles, who also coached at Lakewood.
"It's a tremendous honor," Dudley said. "At first, I almost didn't believe it when I got the call. I thought they were yanking my chain."
Dudley coached at Northeast 33 years and had 340 dual-meet victories. He also started the St. Petersburg City tournament, which is going on its 21st year. Dudley's only state champion, Phil Rizzo, will be his presenter.
"To me it's a tremendous honor," said Dudley, who invited more than 200 friends and family for the event. "I mean, it's part of the national hall of fame."