Arizona Wildcats football practice

QB Donavan Tate has left Arizona to be closer to home. 'It’s been tough on him,' UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. 'I love Donavan. He’s a great young man.'

SAN FRANCISCO – The Donavan Tate experiment, at least at Arizona, is over.

The MLB draft bust-turned-college quarterback has left the program, Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed Sunday. Rodriguez said Tate – no relation to UA starting QB Khalil Tate – wanted to be closer to his family in Georgia. Tate has a wife and three small kids.

“It’s been tough on him,” Rodriguez said. “I love Donavan. He’s a great young man.”

Rodriguez said Tate, 27, might try to play somewhere closer to his hometown of Cartersville, which is about 45 miles northwest of Atlanta.

Tate playing meaningful snaps for Arizona always was a longshot. The third pick in the 2009 MLB draft, Tate struggled through injuries and substance-abuse issues and never made it out of the minor leagues. He came to Tucson as a walk-on over the summer and impressed coaches and teammates with his maturity and desire to learn.

However, Tate hadn’t played football in almost a decade, and the rust showed. He completed his lone pass attempt on Sept. 15 against UTEP.

“He tried to give it a whirl. He tried to make a run,” quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said. “Time away has made him kind of think twice.”

Rodriguez said Tate’s departure wouldn’t affect how many quarterbacks Arizona adds in the offseason.

“He was really a bonus with baseball paying the way,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll bring in one in for sure, and it'll be a good one."

The UA did not ink a quarterback during the early signing period this past week. Jamarye Joiner of Cienega is committed to Arizona and has said he will sign in February.

The Wildcats will be in good shape behind Khalil Tate next season – if veteran backup Brandon Dawkins returns. Dawkins could come back for a fifth year or leave as a grad transfer.

If Dawkins doesn’t return, Arizona would have two returning scholarship players behind Khalil Tate: Rhett Rodriguez, who played sparingly as a freshman, and K’Hari Lane, who redshirted. Smith said this spring will be an important time for Lane.


Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering sports professionally since the early '90s. He started at the Star in 2015 after spending 15 years at The Orange County Register. Michael is a graduate of Northwestern University.