In his pursuit to became Vanderbilt’s No. 1 running back, Wesley Tate is showing what he can offer in more ways than one.
The senior starred in the Commodores’ first scrimmage of the spring on a chilly Saturday morning. He rushed for two touchdowns and caught one touchdown pass in front of a crowd of 300 bundled up in Vanderbilt Stadium.
Tate rushed 12 times for 94 yards and a pair of scores. On one, he took a pitch from quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels and went 69 yards. Tate also caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Carta-Samuels on fourth down of a goal-line drill.
“We hadn’t run that [slant] play all spring,” Tate said. “Playing receiver two years ago, I had heard of that play before, so I knew what to do. I was surprised he threw me the ball but it felt pretty good.”
The veteran in the backfield, Tate is also the biggest option at 6-foot-1, 224 pounds. The Hendersonville native is getting the most reps this spring. Brian Kimbrow is out with an injury. Jerron Seymour is seeing his first action since an injury forced him to miss all of last year. Brentwood Academy product Derek King is adjusting to moving over from cornerback.
Plus, Tate’s familiarity at wide receiver adds another dimension. He caught 22 passes for 187 yards as a slot receiver in 2011.
“He just has really good knowledge of the offense,” said Carta-Samuels, who was 5-of-7 for 68 yards. “He can spread out and we can play a bunch of different personnels and run a bunch of different sets. So what happens is the defense aligns to what our personnel is. If we have two backs in the game, they’re going to bring out a heavier set. Well, Wesley Tate can go out to wide receiver ... and play wide receiver really effectively.
“So it is exciting for us as an offense and our coaches obviously enjoy that luxury.”