Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Brandon Tate
Brandon Tate (WR)
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 183
Conference: ACC
Hometown: Burlington, NC
High School: Cummings
Featured Prospects
Selected by: New England Patriots
Round: 3
Pick (Overall): 19 (83)
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Pick Analysis: The Patriots nab one of the best multi-purpose players on the board with the selection of Tate. The former Tar Heel has the ability to score from anywhere on the field as a receiver or returner. Although he is coming off a torn ACL injury, he could become a big-time player in New England when he fully recovers.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

Tate was just starting to come into his own as a wide receiver in 2008 when he suffered two torn ligaments in his right knee vs. Notre Dame, missing the final seven contests of his career. Before being sidelined, he established an NCAA combined kick return yardage record (3,523 yards) and was 304 yards shy of the NCAA record for kickoff return yardage set by Jeff Liggon of Tulane (2,992 yards, 1993-96), as the Tar Heel generated 2,688 yards.


Tate needed just 165 punt return yards to become the 11th player in NCAA history


with 1,000 yards on both kickoff and punt returns (835 punt return yards). The Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time kick returner holds the school single-season and career records for kicks returned for touchdowns (three in 2006, six for his career). He is one of only nine players in NCAA history to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in the same game (Duke, 2006).


At Cummings High school, Tate earned All-Area honors from the Burlington Times-News. He was a member of the Greensboro News & Record All-Area team and also earned All-Conference accolades, helping the team to the state finals as a junior and the semifinals as a senior.


In his final campaign, Tate had 66 receptions for 1,213 yards and 18 touchdowns in 15 games. He also returned kicks and played defensive back. In 2003, he pulled down 22 catches for 496 yards (22.5 avg) and eight touchdowns. He lettered three times in football, adding three more in basketball. As the team's shooting guard, he led the Cummings High hoops squad to the state title during his junior season.


Tate enrolled at North Carolina in 2005, where he was one of seven true freshmen to letter. He was used strictly on special teams, ranking second in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 25.81-yard average on 21 kickoff returns that included one touchdown. He also ranked third in the league with 29 punt returns for 267 yards (9.21 avg), as he led the Tar Heels with 809 all-purpose yards.


As a sophomore, Tate continued to perform mostly on special teams. He did manage to get some action with the offense, catching five passes for 72 yards (14.4 avg) and gaining 20 yards on three carries. He ranked second in the conference with a 9.7-yard average on 20 punt returns that included one touchdown. He also returned 38 kickoffs for 902 yards (23.7 avg) and two scores, as his total of three kicks returned for touchdowns and two scores vs. Duke set school records. His 1,188 all-purpose yards led the squad and ranked sixth in the ACC.


Tate shared flanker duties with Brooks Foster in 2007, but started all 12 games. He piled up 1,765 all-purpose yards, leading the conference with an average of 147.08 yards per game. He tallied 939 yards on 39 kickoff returns (24.08 avg, fourth in the ACC), 216 yards and a score on 23 punt returns (9.39 avg) and 131 yards on 12 carries that included another touchdown. He also placed third on the team with a career-high 25 receptions for 479 yards (19.2 avg) and five touchdowns, earning All-ACC honorable mention.


As a senior, Tate was again named All-ACC honorable mention, as he snatched 16 passes for 376 yards (23.5 avg) and three touchdowns, adding 143 yards and a score on 11 reverses (13.0 avg). He also scored once on seven punt returns, averaging 22.6 yards per attempt while posting 305 yards on 11 kickoff returns (27.7 avg). Despite missing the final seven games, he ranked second on the team with 982 all-purpose yards, and if he had qualified (did not have the minimum touches) his average of 163.67 all-purpose yards per game would have ranked 11th in the nation and lead the ACC.


The injury brought a close to his career, but he was highly regarded by the staff. "The good news is that he will be back, and he will recover from this. I shared with him that two of the best receivers that I ever had the opportunity to be around as a coach both had equally significantly damaging injuries," head coach Butch Davis said, on the injury to Tate, referring to his experiences with former Miami stars Michael Irvin and Reggie Wayne.


High School

Attended Cummings (Burlington, N.C.) High School, playing football for head coach Steve Johnson...Earned All-Area honors from the Burlington Times-News...Member of the Greensboro News & Record All-Area team and also earned All-Conference accolades, helping the team to the state finals as a junior and the semifinals as a senior...In his final campaign, Tate had 66 receptions for 1,213 yards and 18 touchdowns in 15 games. He also returned kicks and played defensive back...In 2003, he pulled down 22 catches for 496 yards (22.5 avg) and eight touchdowns...Lettered three times in football, adding three more in basketball...As the team's shooting guard, he led the Cummings High hoops squad to the state title during his junior season.


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Analysis

Positives: Long, lean build. Good quickness, size and hand strength to get off the line of scrimmage against press coverage. Emerging route-runner with the quick feet and balance to ultimately be quite good in this area. More quick than fast, though he has good acceleration. Elusive in the open field and has the vision to set up his blocks and break into the open field. Soft hands. Good body control and flexibility to contort his body for the poorly thrown pass. Can extend to make the diving grab. Good height and long arms and uses the combination well to high-point passes over smaller cornerbacks. Excellent returner with NFL ability for punt and kickoff returns.


Negatives: Torn ACL and MCL in October means he won't be able to answer questions about his straight-line speed until after the draft. Primarily a return specialist until flashing as a receiver as a senior. A bit raw as a route-runner. Relies on his athletic ability in this area, rather than precise footwork. Lets too many passes get into his pads.


Injury Report

2007: Missed the second half vs. South Carolina (10/13) after suffering a head injury.


2008: Suffered torn anterior and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee vs. Notre Dame (10/11), undergoing surgery that forced him to sit out the final seven games.


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