It’s that time of year, folks — that agonizing, seemingly endless period when there’s no college football … but plenty of lists and rankings about college football.
None of it really means much of anything. However, it’s better to be recognized than ignored. Thanks mostly to Khalil Tate, the Arizona Wildcats are getting plenty of run.
He’s a rundown of the various lists in which Tate — and one of his teammates — has appeared. If nothing else, they provide some insight into what analysts outside of Tucson think about the junior quarterback — whose health and success mean more to the 2018 Wildcats than any other player.
“Despite not playing much in the first month of the 2017 season, Tate made a name for himself with his ridiculous running ability (1,411 yards, including 327 against Colorado). In the team's bowl game against Purdue, Tate threw for five touchdowns -- which might give him the confidence to move the ball through the air more consistently in 2018. If that happens, watch out!”
It’s important to note that this is not a draft projection — although five of the six players ahead of Tate have appeared in most of the way-too-early 2019 first-round mock drafts that are all over the internet. They include No. 1 Ed Oliver, the Houston defensive tackle Arizona will face in Week 2; and No. 4 Justin Herbert, the Oregon quarterback who lit up the Wildcats last November.
Tate came in at No. 1 on Athlon Sports’ ranking of Pac-12 quarterbacks for 2018. Considering that Herbert and Washington stalwart Jake Browning also play in the Pac-12, that’s a pretty nice compliment.
This is what Athlon’s Steven Lassan wrote about Tate:
“Tate emerged as one of college football’s most dynamic playmakers last season and should thrive under the tutelage of new coach Kevin Sumlin and coordinator Noel Mazzone. The junior is among the leading candidates to win the Heisman Trophy in 2018 after accumulating 3,002 total yards and 26 overall scores last fall.”
“Leading” might a slight exaggeration, but Tate is at least in the conversation at this point, and that’s something.
Sporting News compiled a ranking of the top 25 quarterbacks in the nation for ’18, and Tate landed at No. 4. Wrote author Bill Bender:
“Tate emerged on the scene last October with a ridiculous four-week stretch. ... He won an unprecedented four consecutive Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“He'll create more excitement with new coach Kevin Sumlin, who should get the most out of that explosive skill set. He's one of the most exciting players to watch in all of college football.”
Who ranked ahead of Tate? In descending order, Jake Fromm of Georgia, Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Trace McSorley of Penn State.
Tate’s top target in the spring game also has gotten some love.
Senior receiver Shawn Poindexter made Rivals’ list of five Pac-12 breakout players from spring practice. Wrote Mike Farrell:
“A big-time project coming out, Poindexter was tall and had the size of a tight end with some wide receiver skills but, man, was he raw. He’s a huge target and has built some chemistry with Tate, so he could become a favorite target. We had him as a two-star (prospect) because he struggled so much in certain areas like route running and ball skills. Now he could have a breakout season.”
Poindexter unofficially had six catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.