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The continuing education of FSU football’s Auden Tate

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School’s in.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Florida State
Auden Tate
Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

In 2015, Seminole receiver Auden Tate arrived in Tallahassee already an impressive talent. The Irmo, South Carolina product hit the Florida State campus as a 6-5, 216-pound prospect, and has filled out some since, adding about 10 pounds. But while he’s solidified his frame nicely, he still needs to improve between the ears— so that he can be his best self between the sidelines.

It’s no secret that ‘Nole fans have the highest of hopes for Tate, as he’s frequently compared to Kelvin Benjamin, another imposing FSU WR whose 15 touchdown catches in 2013 are tied atop the Seminole record books for a single season. After Florida State’s 45-7 dismantling of Boston College, I was able to speak with Tate about those comparisons, of which he admitted to being well aware.

I asked Tate, following his career night of six receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, if he’d watched film of Benjamin. He had. I inquired as to just what he’d taken away from the experience: “Just seeing how he uses his body against smaller defenders.” Obviously, tactics and leverage matter.

But Tate also offered a more intriguing bigger-picture reflection that really seemed to put his own development into perspective: “And the big jump for him from his sophomore year to his junior year— I just watched what he did differently.” Tate’s recognition of the work Benjamin put in to become a first-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers speaks volumes about his own determination and humility— he acknowledges that there are things he needs to change, alter, and improve upon.

His willingness to admit as much, along with a work ethic to address these deficiencies, have yielded brow-raising results on the field. And FSU Head Coach Jimbo Fisher agreed that while Tate has indeed come a long way, he still has so much more room to develop:

He's learning how to do it. And there's still some times where he got bumped around tonight and learning to play with his size. He's always learning to bend. He's got to learn to bend like a little guy and then use his size when he has to. You've got to keep that great flexibility in his hips, and he's learning to do that and he's learning to run more routes. We're adding more to his plate, and understanding situations, leverages, all those type of things. He's growing.

Did you notice that? Seven sentences— and six uses of some form of the verb “learn.” And in what way does all that learning culminate, per Fisher? Growth.

Tate’s already tall enough. If he continues to grow as he’s shown this year and as Fisher insists, he’ll mature into an even more sizable threat to opposing defenses.

And then they’ll have to learn how to cover him. Considering his six TDs on 18 catches this year, that appears to be a lesson with which opponents are already struggling.