Eric Tate said he is ready to step up and become a more productive player in the Mundy’s Mill offense as the Tigers seek a playoff berth. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — As Mundy’s Mill running back Rodney Smith regains the form that made him one of the most dangerous rushers in the state last season, things will begin to open up for teammate Eric Tate.
Like last season, Tate, a senior wide receiver, should serve as a perfect compliment to Smith.
“When Rodney is going, teams can’t just stack the box on us,” said Patrick Smith, Rodney’s father and the Mundy’s Mill offensive coordinator. “Eric is really going to help this team in giving us some balance on offense.”
In five games this season, Tate has 226 yards receiving and three touchdowns on 12 receptions. But those numbers are expected to increase with the progress of junior quarterback Rodricous Gates and Smith becoming comfortable and confident after knee surgery during the offseason.
Smith is beginning to return to his old form in the last three games, in which he has gone over the 100-yard mark each time.
“He is getting there,” Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior said.
Tate is confident that his best games are ahead of him.
“My goal is to be the best,” said Tate, who had 20 catches for 326 yards and three touchdowns last season. “I’m getting better, and I’m getting more balls thrown my way. Rodney is getting better, and that is going to help me.”
The Tigers coaching staff has also praised the progress of Gates. Smith has rushed for 470 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, but has really come on strong the last three games against Coffee, McIntosh and Mount Zion. In the last three games, he has rushed for 425 yards and six touchdowns.
With teams now concentrating on stopping him, Tate is confident he will make a difference.
“Rodney will help me out a lot in the next few games,” Tate said. “It is going to leave me in a lot of one-on-one situations. We really compliment each other on the field. I know Rodney is going to do his thing.”
And the more highlights he gets, Tate is likely to get his first college offer.
Although he doesn’t have any now, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder hasn’t been distraught by the lack of attention from college coaches.
“I feel like I’m a diamond in the rough,” he said. “Once the colleges see what I can do, they will take advantage of it. I just have to go out and prove myself every game. I think I bring good chemistry to the team, and I’m a physical presence for us. We have a good running game with Rodney, but you got to respect our passing game.”
But Tate’s main concern is helping the team get into the postseason, something Mundy’s Mill hasn’t done since the 2007 season.
“I consider myself a team player,” Tate said. “I want to do what ever it takes to make the playoffs.”