Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate knew he was going to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated about a month ago, when a photographer took pictures of him for the iconic magazine.
But Tate didn’t tell his parents. He wanted to keep it a secret. He wanted it to be a gift.
It just so happened that the covers for SI’s college football preview were revealed on the same day — Aug. 7 — that Brian and Lesli Tate celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.
“That’s God,” Khalil Tate said about that delightful coincidence.
“My dad was excited. He was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ ”
Tate spoke with Tucson reporters Monday for the first time since spring, and the SI cover naturally was a prominent topic. Tate said it was something he always wanted as a young athlete. But he understands that it’s as much about the team and the school as it is about him.
“Accolades come with winning,” Tate said. “If you win each and every game, everything will work out how it’s supposed to.”
UA coach Kevin Sumlin put it this way:
“Anytime you have a player that has something like that or is a national-award winner or finalist, we’ve always looked at that as a team award. Because you can’t be 0-12 and do that. It takes a bunch of other people — coaches, players, a lot of different things — to put you in that position. And you have to make plays yourself.”
No one questions Tate’s ability to do that. But he has more responsibility now as an upperclassman and the Wildcats’ undisputed starting quarterback.
Some would say he faces more pressure now too, especially as an SI cover athlete. Tate doesn’t buy into the cover jinx. He doesn’t listen to the noise.
“I don’t pay any attention to that,” Tate said. “I’m going to do me each and every day. I think all that is politics. As long as I get better each and every day, that will tell my story.”
Berryhill’s route to UA
Receiver Stanley Berryhill III took a detour on his route from Tucson to … Tucson.
Berryhill is from here. He began his high school career at Mountain View. But before his senior year, he transferred to Orange Lutheran in Orange, California. He wanted to prove himself against the best prep competition.
“I just felt I had better opportunities, bigger players, better competition up there,” Berryhill said. “I was playing in one of the top leagues in the country in high school. It was good to go out and try to get some exposure.”
Berryhill always wanted to play for the Wildcats. He might have ended up at the UA even if he had stayed at Mountain View.
But he and his family believed that playing a season in Southern California would put him in a better position.
Not only is he on the roster, but Berryhill has a role — despite coming to the UA as a walk-on. (In a tweet pinned to the top of his timeline, Berryhill says his “goal for 2018 is to earn a scholarship.”)
The slippery redshirt freshman is running with the second-team offense. He’s also pushing Shun Brown for the punt-return job.
Berryhill led Arizona in receptions during the spring game. Unofficially, he registered seven catches for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Listed at 5-9, 172 pounds, Berryhill models his game after DeSean Jackson, the veteran NFL speedster who’s listed at 5-10, 175.
“I’m kinda smaller for a receiver,” said Berryhill, who also had opportunities to play baseball in college. “So was he. And he’s fast. I try to play as fast as I can.”
How quickly Berryhill gets meaningful playing time remains to be seen. Brown, a senior, is ensconced as the slot receiver. But Berryhill said he’s been working inside and outside. That should help.
Regardless, he’s happy to be home.
“It feels good,” Berryhill said.
“I’ve always wanted to come here. It’s been a big deal being part of the offense, playing the role they need me to play.”
Hough will help
When they lost two cornerbacks this summer, the Wildcats needed immediate help at the position. They got it in the form of graduate transfer Tim Hough.
Hough was a part-time starter at UNLV, where he had four interceptions as a redshirt freshman in 2015. He brings experience and edginess to a position where you never can have enough of either.
“Whatever you want to do, I’m going to come back at you,” Hough said. “If you fire at me, I’m going to fire back.”
Hough began practicing Friday, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he quickly ascended to the No. 3 cornerback spot. Arizona returns two starters in senior Jace Whittaker and redshirt sophomore Lorenzo Burns. Whittaker has missed time during training camp, as have fellow veterans Malcolm Holland and Sammy Morrison.
Despite missing practice time himself while waiting for summer-school grades to be posted, Hough believes he can make an instant impact.
“I think I’m up to speed right now,” he said. “It’s just football. That’s what they bring us in to do, no matter what level.
“You’ve gotta be ready to play. You’ve been doing it your whole life.”
Hough originally committed to Oregon for his final year of college ball. But the earlier-then-expected arrival of his daughter, Peyton, on June 4, prompted a change of plans. Hough wanted to be closer to Las Vegas, his hometown.
Arizona also was appealing because of the presence of his former teammate at Desert Pines High School, linebacker Tony Fields II. Fields was a freshman at Desert Pines when Hough was a senior. The two consider each other brothers.
“Brothers over the world,” Hough said. “I’m gonna go with that before anything.”
- Whittaker did not practice Monday. Neither did veteran center Nathan Eldridge.
- Former UA offensive lineman Jacob Alsadek signed with the Dallas Cowboys.
- The team worked with a new soundtrack in the background: The Pride of Arizona marching band practiced at Bear Down Field and in the parking lot adjacent to Arizona Stadium.