Tate did not catch a ball as a freshman, but spent all year as the primary punt and kick returner. He averaged 25.8 yards per kick return with one touchdown, and 9.2 yards per punt return. As a sophomore, he had just 92 yards on offense(72 receiving, 20 rushing) but had a 23.7 KO return average with two scores, and a 9.7 punt return average with another score. Tate became more of a playmaker on offense as a junior, hauling in 25 passes for 479 yards and five scores, while rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. He maintained his success as a return man, averaging 24.1 yards per kick return and 9.4 per punt return, with one of them taken back for a score. Tate was off to a tremendous start as a senior before an ACL injury ended his season after six games. Through those six games, he ran for 143 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught 16 passes for 376 yards and three touchdowns. Tate also averaged over 22 yards per punt return with one for a touchdown and over 27 yards per kick return.
Tate is very exciting as a return man, and has had a lot of success as a kick and punt returner. He has maintained both duties for three straight seasons for the Tar Heels, and has five career touchdowns on special teams entering his senior season. Tate is very dangerous with the ball in his hands. He is very elusive and hard for defenders to get a clean hit on. He has excellent quickness and quickly changes direction and accelerates to pull away from the defender. He is as exciting as they come from the WR position, and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. He is very versatile and has been lined up all over the field, and scored touchdowns on kick and punt returns, as well as receiving and rushing.
Tate has shown a lot of big play ability, but inconsistency and injury limited his consistency. His bouncing around has limited his development as a receiver, and he will need to continue to show improvement as an offensive player. Tate’s injury came at a time when he was arguably the top playmaker in college football. He will now have to show he is completely healthy and battle back to get at full strength, while continuing to work on his game as a receiver.
Brandon Tate is a big time weapon and his ability to score in a variety of ways is going to make him an intriguing option in April. He had the look of a sure fire first rounder through six games when the knee injury ended his season, and that was very unfortunate. Tate checked in at 6' 183lbs at the combine, but was unable to work out while recovering. His rookie year may be in jeopardy with the injury, as he may be forced to begin the year on the physically unable to perform list. His potential is worth the gamble on a late selection in April and could pay huge dividends two years from now.