Covenant football head coach Chris Oxford plans to hand senior Khristian Tate the load at running back this upcoming season, but it won’t be the only load on his shoulders this fall.
After starting for two years for the Rams at fullback and linebacker, Tate impressed coaches at the next level and recently visited Georgia, Tennessee, Mercer and Kennesaw State.
“It really is a dream come true for me,” Tate said. “I’m just hoping when I get there, I’ll shine a little bit.”
He planned to visit Alabama and Auburn, as well, but football camps he already had planned to attend took precedence. In late July, he attended a camp in College Station, Texas.
Tate considers himself a fullback, but at the 2015 NUC Sports Top Prospect Football Elite Camp, he worked out as a running back and finished as the second-highest ranked player at the position. Tate called it “a good day,” as the camp directors pushed players through drills, one-on-ones, two-on-twos and seven-on-sevens to determine the camp’s rankings.
In high school last year, Tate rushed for 351 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and registered 86 tackles as the leader of Covenant’s defense. Oxford described him as “the real deal.” But Tate did not always think college football was his future.
Tate has “learned a lot” the past three years because of his team’s struggles. But as Tate has improved, so have the Rams. In his ninth-grade year, Covenant won only one game. As a sophomore, Tate’s team went 2-8. Last year witnessed an improvement as the team finished 5-5 in its first year in the GICAA.
“Those first couple of years humbled me, because you know, you have to learn how to lose before you can win,” Tate said. “Last year was really good -- gave us a boost for this year.”
Tate’s journey to the game was rather simple. His father and older brother played, so at the age of 8, Tate said he “just thought I’d play.”
Nine years later, Tate has drawn interest from college programs. Tate has not officially received any offers yet, but teams have contacted his speed coach. Tate said Georgia head coach Mark Richt told him he is similar to current Bulldogs fullback Quayvon Hicks.
As a Georgia fan, Tate found the experience of meeting Richt enjoyable.
“It was pretty awesome,” Tate said. “I was hoping to take a picture, but I couldn’t.”
And just to ensure a coach remembers him, Tate utilizes a unique way of catching his attention.
“When I shake his hand, I try to break his hand,” Tate said. “So when I went back up to Georgia the second time, their strength and conditioning coach remembered me.”
And while on his visit to Tennessee, the staff took him into the “Peyton Manning Room.” It’s safe to say the Volunteers caught Tate’s eye as he called Knoxville the most impressive visit.
“They’re real nice,” Tate said. “Their facilities are really, really nice. They’ve got the biggest stadium of the ones I’ve seen.”
According to Oxford, Tennessee envisions Tate as a running back. While Tate prefers fullback or linebacker, Oxford decided to move him to running back this year because of Tate’s improved speed. At 263 pounds, Tate runs a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash.
“I’m hoping I’ll at least have a 2,000-yard season this year,” Tate said.
But more importantly, Tate yearns to earn some hardware this season.
“For the team, I really want a ring,” Tate said. “So I’m hoping for state.”
And while a state championship remains the focus right now, Tate says he’s ready for what comes next after his high school career.
“I know in college, they have a little bit more free time to work out and do whatever, so I’m really looking forward to that,” Tate said. “Just game day. College game days are awesome.”