The Arizona Wildcats’ quarterback room just got more interesting — and more crowded.
Donavan Tate, the third pick in the 2009 MLB draft, is set to join the UA football team this summer. Although he is 26 years old — and will turn 27 in September — Tate has no college or pro football playing experience and will be a freshman this season.
After being drafted by the San Diego Padres and receiving a signing bonus of more than $6 million, Tate played parts of six seasons in the minor leagues for the Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. An outfielder, Tate never made it above high A-ball, hitting .226 in 1,049 at-bats.
Tate suffered several injuries and had major off-the-field issues, including substance abuse that forced him into rehab.
Tate, who’s from Cartersville, Georgia, has had two stints in rehab facilities, according to multiple published reports. Tate, who’s listed at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds on baseball-reference.com, weighed just 135 pounds at one point, according to a 2015 story in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Tate told the paper that he had problems with alcohol, marijuana and other drugs at various points.
“I have a very addictive personality, and it caught up with me — big time,” he said. “It spiraled out of control.”
Tate, the son of former NFL running back Lars Tate, apparently is in a better place now and wants to give football a shot.
A two-sport standout in high school, Tate was committed to North Carolina before electing to sign with the Padres. Rivals ranked him as a four-star football prospect and the No. 5 athlete in the nation in the class of 2009.
“I remember I went to watch him play football one time. He was like a man among boys,” Ash Lawson, a former Padres scout, told the team’s website in 2013. “He was a water bug out there. ... No one could tackle him.
“The bottom line was, he was the best athlete in the country that year ... hands down.”
Tate will be a walk-on and the Padres will pay his college costs, per his original baseball contract. Another Arizona player, redshirt-sophomore cornerback Malcolm Holland, has the same arrangement via the Dodgers.
Tate will compete with incumbent Brandon Dawkins, a redshirt junior, and sophomore Khalil Tate (no relation). Arizona also is bringing in two other freshmen: K’hari Lane of Montezuma, Georgia, and Catalina Foothills’ Rhett Rodriguez, the son of UA coach Rich Rodriguez.
Dawkins played well at times last season, his first as the primary starter. He rushed for 944 yards and 10 touchdowns but completed only 53.8 percent of his pass attempts.
Khalil Tate was forced into duty as a 17-year-old because of injuries at the position and struggled in his lone start. The former four-star recruit played superbly in Arizona’s final spring scrimmage.
Rodriguez mentioned the addition of a new quarterback with a baseball background at a pep rally in Tempe on Wednesday. However, he could not comment officially when approached by a Star reporter because Donavan Tate’s paperwork had not been finalized.
It’s not unprecedented for older quarterbacks who flamed out in baseball to have successful careers in college football.
Chris Weinke joined the Florida State football team at age 25 and became a three-year starter for the Seminoles. Brandon Weeden redshirted as a 24-year-old at Oklahoma State before eventually becoming the Cowboys’ starting QB.