Carnell Tate Ohio State Buckeyes Wide Receiver

Closer Look: Carnell Tate Can Do Whatever An Offense Needs

It didn’t take long for Carnell Tate to make noise this spring for the Buckeyes. The talented receiver was a standout all throughout camp, looking much more advanced than a true freshman should.

Ranked a five-star prospect and the No. 3 receiver in the 2023 class by 247Sports, Tate showed this spring that those rankings may be a bit too conservative.

What To Like

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 191 pounds, Carnell Tate has the unique ability to play both bigger and smaller than he is. He has the size and physicality to be an X receiver, lined up on the line of scrimmage with a cornerback within arm’s reach. He can post up and use his body and length on the sidelines. He also has the speed and quickness to line up in the slot or off the line of scrimmage and be used all over the field.

His ability to pick up yards after the catch may be his most underrated trait, and it is an example of somebody who can play smaller than 6-foot-2.

Tate was also used as the return specialist last year for IMG Academy, which says something in itself when a program with that many playmakers uses you to return picks and punts.

The Buckeyes had Tate practicing both kick return and punt return this spring. Losing receiver Kaleb Brown to the portal moves Tate up the kick return depth chart, but special teams coordinator Parker Fleming may be leaning in a couple of different directions.

Still, Tate has shown he can return the ball if the Buckeyes want to try it out.

The Potential

Based on the fact that Carnell Tate lost his black stripe after just five practices this spring — which is faster than any Buckeye since Urban Meyer brought the tradition to OSU in 2012 — the potential would seem quite high.

Tate is comfortable lining up outside or in the slot, so his presence on the field won’t restrict the playcalling. He can be put in motion to find a favorable matchup, though most matchups in high school were favorable for him.

As you watch the highlights below, keep in mind that the clips with Tate in the red uniform came during his freshman season at Marist High School in Chicago. He is very much a natural — but don’t let that confuse you into thinking he hasn’t put the work in.

The Expectations

The Buckeyes are loaded at receiver this season, but with the injuries that occurred last season all over the roster, receivers coach Brian Hartline will make sure that everybody is preparing to see the field.

Even with a deep roster, it didn’t take Carnell Tate long to move up the depth chart this spring. Sure, the Buckeyes were without some guys, but Tate took his opportunities and did something productive with them.

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For all of the reasons already mentioned, Tate has received quite a bit of attention. But it has always been difficult for a true freshman receiver to make a large mark for the Buckeyes. Garrett Wilson is the only true freshman receiver in the last 25 years to catch 30 passes in a season. Should Tate be expected to be the second? It’s not fair to him, but it wouldn’t surprise anybody if he did what Wilson did as a freshman in 2019.

As Tate grows and builds upon his skill set, it also won’t be a surprise if he’s a red zone threat pretty quickly. Especially since we saw him do it in practice this spring.

The Bottom Line

Playing the same position as Marvin Harrison, Jr. is not the best way to get on the field. However, OSU moved Harrison around quite a bit this spring, and Tate could do the same.

As mentioned, this is a deep group, and most of the critical snaps will feature Harrison, Emeka Egbuka, and Julian Fleming. Those three receivers are the most reliable for the Buckeyes. Add in Xavier Johnson, and now you’ve got a foursome that Brian Hartline has complete trust in. The key for Tate is to show he can be counted on. So far, that’s exactly what he has done.

If nothing else, Tate will keep an offense on schedule — or ahead of it. He will fight for every yard.

Previous Closer Look editions

Quarterback Lincoln Kienholz | Wide Receiver Brandon Inniss | Tight End Jelani Thurman | Offensive Lineman Vic Cutler | Offensive Lineman Luke Montgomery | Defensive End Joshua Mickens | Defensive Tackle Kayden McDonald Cornerback Jermaine Mathews, Jr. | Cornerback Davison Igbinosun | Safety Ja’Had Carter 

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