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Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate does not plan to play WR in the NFL

Arizona's Khalil Tate (14) looks to pass against Arizona State's defense during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Khalil Tate does not see wide receiver in his future.

The Arizona Wildcats quarterback is trying to prove to scouts that he can throw the ball at the NFL level and his talents stretch beyond the run game.

“That’s not my plan (to play wide receiver),” Tate said to the Star-Telegram. “Not at all.”

He is participating in the College Gridiron Showcase at McNair Stadium in Fort Worth this week. Tate wants to show he’s more than just the runner who took the Pac-12 by storm in 2017.

“The stigma behind me is that I’m just a runner,” he said. “But when I get out here and spin the ball in front of them, it opens their eyes. That’s something that they didn’t know I could do.”

Tate broke onto the national scene for the Wildcats as a sophomore, rushing for 1,411 yards and 12 touchdowns and passing for 1,591 yards at a 62% completion rate. He rushed for more than 130 yards in six games in a row, including three with more than 200 rushing yards.

He entered 2018 as a Heisman favorite but suffered an ankle injury early in the season and finished the year with a completion rate of just 56.3% while passing for 2,530 yards, though he did have 26 touchdowns to eight interceptions. He ran for 224 total yards and just 3.0 per carry a year after averaging more than nine yards per rush.

The following season, Tate threw for 1,954 yards and 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions with a 60.2% completion rate. He rushed for 413 yards and three touchdowns and eventually began to split snaps with freshman quarterback Grant Gunnell in a 4-8 season.

Though Tate could never achieve the success he seemed poised to have in 2017, he thinks his dual-threat ability fits in with the way the league is moving.

The majority of playoff teams this year have quarterbacks adept at creating plays with their legs. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the MVP favorite; Russell Wilson has led the Seattle Seahawks to their seventh playoff appearance in the last eight years; Deshaun Watson has established himself among the NFL elites; Josh Allen is an up-and-comer who shows talent even with some dumbfounding decisions last week; Jimmy Garoppolo moves well in the pocket, as do Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, though the latter two are known more as passers.

Tate wants scouts to see him in a similar lens as Jackson. The two are similar sizes, with Jackson standing 6-foot-2, 212 pounds and Tate at 6-foot-1, 218. Jackson also had a poor completion percentage in college, though he showed big play-potential more often in his career and finished with much higher passing and rushing numbers.

With Jackson dominating the NFL, Tate told the Star-Telegram that NFL teams need to recognize the league is trending in a direction of quarterbacks who can run.

“I feel like it’s perfect timing,” Tate said. “You’ve got to accept it and you’ve got to look for that in the future for your organization if you want to elevate to the next level.”

Tate will have to prove to NFL teams his running abilities complement his passing game the way the rest of these quarterbacks can and he wasn’t just a one-year wonder.

He is not ranked as a top-200 draft prospect by ESPN.

The College Gridiron Showcase concludes Wednesday.


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