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Arizona football: Wildcats to add former MLB prospect Donavan Tate as a quarterback

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And now things get interesting

NCAA Football: Arizona at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

In 2009, Donavan Tate was the third overall pick in the MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres.

In 2017, Donavan Tate is now a quarterback for the Arizona Wildcats.

Something that has been rumored for a few weeks within Arizona circles became official at a U of A event in Tempe when Rich Rodriguez announced that he would be bringing in the former blue-chip baseball prospect.

Tate, who is 26 years old now, was drafted straight out of high school, which should give him five years of eligibility, just like any other first year college player despite playing in the minor leagues from 2010-16.

It seems he will also be a walk-on, and the Padres will be covering his tuition costs.

Tate will not be eligible to play baseball for Arizona.

He was originally committed to North Carolina to play both football and baseball before deciding to pursue professional baseball.

A normal high school day for him included watching opposing defenses and hitting 200 balls off of a tee.

"I can't just take days off because not everybody's going to take a day off," he told ESPN in 2009. "Just knowing that, you got to keep bettering yourself and your ability to play."

In 2011, Tate was suspended 50 games for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He also went to rehab twice, with the second stint being a five month stay in early 2013.

"Addiction is addiction, really ... no matter what it is,” Tate told MLB.com’s Corey Brock in June of 2013.

As you scroll down that article, you stumble upon this paragraph:

"I remember I went to watch him play football one time. He was like a man among boys. He was a water bug out there. ... No one could tackle him," said Ash Lawson, the area scout who recommended Tate in 2009. "The bottom line was he was the best athlete in the country that year ... hands down."

And also:

"The guy was a freak," Lawson said. "The one shot we had to hit it big was with Donavan."

In 2014, Tate missed the entire season due to a torn Achilles tendon. He also wasn’t able to make his debut in 2009 because of a sports hernia, and in 2010, he was injured in an ATV accident before spring training started. He also suffered a sprained shoulder and concussion that year.

“There aren’t words that can describe the help that they’ve given me,” Tate said about the Padres to Baseball America in 2015. “I’ve just been very fortunate that I’ve been a part of people who actually care about me and who actually want to see me succeed in life and handle the issues off the field.”

In 2016, Tate played ten games in the Dodgers’ organization, getting just five hits in 35 at bats. The way his baseball career played out led to Bleacher Report naming him the biggest MLB Draft bust of the last decade. He never reached AA ball.


Back to high school football really quick. This was Tate’s recruiting profile put together by ESPN back in 2009:

Tate is intriguing because, although he is labeled as an "athlete," he actually is a darn good quarterback prospect. But he needs the right scheme and coach in order to stay at the position. His size, speed and athleticism likely will get him moved to safety or wide receiver. Under center, he is an excellent dual threat. Has a wide receiver's build. He's quick, agile and elusive. Has very good pocket presence and can consistently escape the rush. Makes things happen after the initial play breaks down. Has good speed and wiggle in the open field for his height. Runs well, but doesn't limit himself as a passer. Clearly wants to throw first and run second. Shows patience in the pocket, keeps his eyes downfield when rushed and flushes only when he feels he must. Throws the ball very well and has confidence in his passing ability. Shows fairly smooth mechanics and a quick over-the-top delivery. Demonstrates touch, timing and accuracy. Has underrated arm strength. Throws very well on the run. Can throw off balance, buy time and still get the ball deep. Has good deep-ball arm strength when his feet are set. Sometimes locks on to his receivers and needs to quicken his progressions, but his quarterback skills--not just his athleticism--are impressive. He's very productive in all phases. Tate's uniform number (32) seems to suggest he won't stay at quarterback, and he's also an outstanding (and serious) baseball player. But his tools are attractive at any skill position.

He is expected to compete for the starting quarterback job in Tucson this fall. It’s certainly a huge wrinkle and a huge unknown heading into the 2017 season for this team.

It definitely makes Arizona football a lot more interesting now.