I thought there was some unwritten rule that freshmen, no matter how good they are, should have some sort of adjustment period from high school to college, especially at the SEC level. There have been exceptions, of course, like Julio Jones and John Wall. Add Tavaris Tate to that short list.
The MSU sprinter has actually been put on the watch list for the 2010 Bowerman Award, which is basically the Heisman Trophy of track and field. The top male athlete and top female athlete get it each year. Judging by his performance thus far and by what his coach says, Tate has a legit shot at winning the thing.
In today's Daily Journal I take a look at State's track team, which is led by a host of world-class sprinters, including Tate, who prepped at Starkville High. He's quickly becoming the marquee guy on the squad.
"A lot of people had the mindset to where college is different than high school," Tate said. "Yes, it's different than high school, but (if) the times that you run and the work ethic that you have is on the same level as collegiate, then you have to accept that."
He was referring to his older teammates, who weren't exactly fawning over Tate when he arrived. But as I note in the story, he's won them over with his performance.
"A guy like Tavaris is real good to have," said sophomore O'Neal Wilder, "just because if you mess up or you make a mistake (in a relay race), he has the speed to kind of get you out of a bind."
When I asked coach Al Schmidt about Tate, he made that kind of snorting noise a person makes when he's about to say, "Lemme tell ya about this kid." So Schmidt told me about him.
"The one thing I've seen about Tavaris, he's not only talented, but he works hard. And the hardest thing for a talented guy to understand in track and field is that each level you go to, you've got to work even harder. He's already got that ingrained in him, and I think that's sort of a perfect match."
You may have seen it when it ran, but we had a nice feature on Tate last year, who starred at Starkville High School. Kid's got a future.