Khalil Tate on gift to his parents, improved leadership and relationship with Sumlin
He learned from one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all time, sat in the spotlight of Pac-12 media days and took part in a cover shoot for Sports Illustrated, all in the span of three months.
That was life for Khalil Tate this past summer, along with getting ready for his junior season in which expectations are sky high. This week, the Arizona football starting quarterback talked about his busy offseason and how he plans to help lead the Wildcats in 2018.
Sports Illustrated cover boy:
Tate appeared on one of Sports Illustrated’s covers for their college football preview, making him the first UA football player to grace the cover since 1994.
“It means a lot. Growing up, that’s something that a lot of younger athletes want,” Tate said. “I think it also helps the university, showing that we’re a great university also.”
Appearing on the magazine also turned out to be a surprise present from Tate to his parents. The cover was released on the same day as his parents’ 25th anniversary, Aug. 7.
“That’s … that’s God,” Tate said, smiling.
On Heisman consideration:
“He’s the nation’s best QB.”
“Hand him the Heisman.”
Those words were written on Tate’s SI cover and the 19-year-old said “that’s big” to be in contention for college football’s most prestigious individual award. Tate’s odds currently sit at a 15/1 according to Bovada, the fifth best odds in the nation.
“It’s something that a lot of kids growing up dreaming to do,” Tate said.
Being a starting quarterback, and mentioned as one of the best in the nation, comes with expectations of playmaking and leadership. The playmaking part will have to wait a few more weeks, but Tate already seems to have a firm grasp on how to be a leader his team can rally around.
“Just being more professional,” the junior said. “On the field, being all serious. And in the locker room, joking around here and there. On the field, just making sure the team knows I’m not playing any games ... Teams that don’t do well, they don’t have that strong leadership.”
Studying with “The Sheriff”
Since 1996, the Manning family has held the annual “Manning Passing Academy” camp for young quarterbacks, and Tate was selected to be one of the camp counselors this year.
He attended the camp at Nicholls State University in Louisiana with other highly-touted college throwers, including Auburn University’s Jarrett Stidham and University of Georgia’s Jake Fromm.
Tate even spent time learning from the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns, Peyton Manning.
“Just how serious [Manning] is, how into the game he is, how much mental notes he takes,” Tate said of his takeaways. “Really just what he sees on the field … It was cool being out there with all those guys.”
Head coach and QB relationship:
The connection between a starting quarterback and his head coach is often different and more closely knit than with other position players.
“It has to be,” Kevin Sumlin, football head coach, said. “It’s different because we [head coach and QB] get way too much credit when we win and we get all the blame when we lose. So you have to have that relationship.”
In the few months that Sumlin and Tate have been around each other, the latter says they have developed a “humorous” relationship.
“There’s not a relationship like ours around the country, just being the fact he recruited me out of high school and I was going to go there [Texas A&M] and I ended up not,” Tate said. “It’s all funny how we end up in the same place.”