Argos Add Dual-Threat QB Khalil Tate
Khalil Tate, 23, has had a unique playing journey, one where he made an immediate splash on the scene in his early days at Arizona. The California native Tate, a consensus 4-star recruit, after playing some as a true freshman in 2016, would explode on the national stage as a sophomore. Earning AP Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year honors. Tate was also named Offensive Player of the Week four consecutive times in 2017.
Tate led the Wildcats to a winning campaign, rushing for over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns. He would also complete 62 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The sky was the limit for the raw but uber-talented 6’0 216lb signal caller. The national media started anointing Khalil Tate as the next big thing after his starring turn in 2017.
However, the early success was a blessing and a curse. The expectation level for Tate was exceedingly high right out the gate. He followed up his breakout campaign with better overall passing numbers the following year, 2,600 yards with 26 touchdowns. But he wasn’t able to duplicate his stats on the ground under new head coach Kevin Sumlin and Noel Mazzone’s offense. (224 yards and two touchdowns in 11 starts). The dip in production on the ground was due partially to a scheme change from his former coach Rich Rodriguez and a lingering ankle injury.
Tate’s final season in the Desert saw his passing numbers dwindle with 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. His rushing numbers slightly improved from the year prior (90-413-4.6, three TDs), but a hamstring injury limited his overall mobility. The lack of progression and questions about his football character led to a precipitous fall for Tate in the football scouting community.
Khalil Tate went from college football’s flavor of the month to an afterthought in the NFL Draft process. He went undrafted in 2020 and had to make a position change out of college. The Philadelphia Eagles signed Tate and tried to convert him to wide receiver. Tate would spend a year on and off the Eagles’ offseason roster before being released last Summer.
The impasse in Tate’s playing career brought him up north. Tate would sign with the Edmonton Elks this past January. But in a crowded quarterback room, he was let go.
Toronto Could Be A Perfect Fit For Khalil Tate
The Argos have a talented quarterback room with McLeod Bethel-Thompson and CFL rookie Chad Kelly. But there is a clear need for a short-yardage specialist on Toronto’s roster. The skill-set of Khalil Tate could be the cure for the Boatmen’s ongoing ills in short yardage and the red zone. An ongoing issue for the Argonauts’ that was exacerbated when Antonio Pipkin was released before the season started.
Initially, Toronto attempted to insert Austin Simmons in the “Pipkin” role. But he had trouble understanding the intricacies of converting short-yardage plays in the Canadian game. Earlier this season, the Argos comically couldn’t covert a first and goal from the one-yard line at BC. Despite having three consecutive tries.
The sequence led to Simmons’s demotion from the active roster. Toronto inserted Chad Kelly into that role during practice. But he hasn’t been used during games. Instead, the Boatmen have chosen to keep their starting pivot Bethel-Thompson in the game on short yardage. And although MBT has been game for the role. He has had mixed results at best converting, which should be a gimme in the CFL.
Removing Thompson from the role takes away the possibility of an injury. But it also opens new packages for the offense.
It may take time for Khalil Tate to get up to speed on Ryan Dinwiddie’s complicated offensive system. But because of his dynamic skill set as a runner, Tate is the perfect casting to assume a role that is lacking on the Argos. Some might scoff at overstating the value of having a QB who converts a sneak play. But in the CFL, it’s a must-have for every team.
Because of the new CFL rule, where you can line up two quarterbacks on the field. Tate could see some time on offense on occasion, lined up at WR. He brings added value on game days.
Tate can be an immediate contributor to the Argos in the short term. Long term, if dedicated to learning the nuances of the Canadian game, Tate could go back to showings signs of the superstar he was in his early days at Arizona.