Better Know a Buckeye: Carnell Tate Always Wanted to Attend His “Dream School” and Play for Ohio State

By Josh Poloha on March 16, 2023 at 10:10 am
Carnell Tate

Better Know A Buckeye is our look at every member of Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class and how they became Buckeyes as they prepare to begin their OSU careers this fall.

The No. 9 wide receiver (No. 59 overall) in the 2023 class according to 247Sports' composite rankings, Carnell Tate is rated as either a four- or five-star wide receiver depending on which recruiting service you look at, but would be the crown jewel of most teams’ recruiting classes.

In Ohio State’s 2023 class, he’s only the third-highest-ranked wide receiver in the composite rankings. But that doesn’t mean he should be overshadowed by anyone when considering the future impact he could make for the Buckeyes.

Carnell Tate

  • Size: 6-2/180
  • Position: WR
  • School: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
  • 247 Composite: ★★★★
  • Composite Rank: #9 WR
  • Overall Rank: #59

How He Became A Buckeye

Tate never lived in Ohio. The Chicago, Illinois native played at IMG Academy in Florida his final two years of high school. Yet he always had a dream of playing for the Buckeyes. When Ohio State gave him an offer on April 23, 2021, it was a day and moment Tate would never forget.

“I was shocked at the offer. All my life I wanted to go to Ohio State. I grew up a Buckeye fan,” Tate told Eleven Warriors. “It meant everything to me to get my dream school. My dreams are coming true.”

The Buckeyes immediately became the favorite to land Tate’s commitment, and it almost happened that October. Instead, Tate decided to delay his announcement and ended up making 12 visits over the next seven months to Tennessee (four times), Ohio State (three), Notre Dame (twice), Georgia (once), LSU (once) and Ole Miss (once).

The Fighting Irish were initially the Buckeyes’ top competition for Tate, but the Volunteers pushed hard for a Tate commitment later in the process. With four visits to Knoxville, the rumors began circulating that Tennessee could get one of the top wide receivers in the 2023 cycle. Those rumors became even louder when reports surfaced that Tate was offered a lucrative NIL deal to become a Volunteer.

Even with the twists and turns, Ohio State's coaching staff continued to make Tate its top priority. The Buckeyes finally landed their target on June 20, 2022, when he officially announced his commitment to Ohio State.

“Carnell, that was quite a recruiting process. I thought Brian and everybody did a great job there,” Ryan Day said on Early Signing Day. “But I think he always knew he wanted to be a Buckeye as well. He's got a chance to be an impact player for us.”

Tate's commitment started a run of elite wide receiver commitments for Ohio State, as two receivers who ended up being ranked even higher than him – Brandon Inniss and Noah Rogers – followed him by choosing the Buckeyes over the subsequent two days.

High School Years

In his first season at Marist High School, just outside of Chicago, Tate caught 28 passes for 444 yards and five touchdowns, quickly emerging as one of the best wideouts in his class. After the pandemic canceled his 2020 season, Tate transferred to IMG Academy the winter before his junior season.

Playing on the national stage, Tate continued to prove he was one of the best wide receivers in the country with his performance over two years with the Ascenders. As a senior, Tate had 37 receptions for 750 yards and eight touchdowns.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound wideout showed in high school that he can be a playmaker both outside and in the slot. He even lined up as a defensive back at times during his senior season, proving his athletic ability on that side of the ball as well.

Immediate Impact

Tate might have a hard time finding any significant playing time as a freshman this fall, but that speaks more about the amount of talent that's in Ohio State's wide receivers room than it does about Tate. The Buckeyes return all of their wideouts who played regularly last season, including Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Xavier Johnson, which will make it tough for any young player to earn substantial playing time right away.

Add in the fact that Inniss and Rogers will also be in the fold, and Tate will face a lot of competition to get on the field in year one, which could make 2023 a developmental year for him both on the field and in the weight room – though he’s talented enough that some playing time can’t be ruled out.

With his experience returning kickoffs and punts, Tate could contribute on special teams while he waits his turn at wide receiver.

Long-Term Impact

Like Inniss and Rogers, Tate is yet another wide receiver in Ohio State's 2023 class who can be a matchup nightmare for opponents. Tate shows excellent ability to both high-point balls in the air and use his agility, awareness and route-running ability to create separation.

Whether it's against man or zone coverage, Tate has shown time and time again that he can find a way to get open. Those skills should only improve now that he’s being coached by Hartline, while Mickey Marotti and his strength and conditioning coach will help Tate become bigger and stronger.

“I bring everything to the table,” Tate told Eleven Warriors after receiving his offer. “I can line up as a slot and outside. I make plays and put on a show wherever I am. I can stretch the field, and I’m a jump-ball receiver. There’s no limit to what I can do.”

In an ideal world, Tate not only becomes a star on Ohio State's special teams, but he, Inniss and Rogers become Ohio State’s next elite trio of wide receivers, continuing the Buckeyes’ recent trend of greatness at the position. If Tate lives up to his potential, it will allow Ohio State's passing attack to continue to flourish much as it has in recent memory.

Player Comparison: Chris Olave

During his first season at Ohio State in 2018, Olave had 12 catches for 197 yards and three touchdowns. While developing both in the weight room and on the field, he flourished on special teams, a part of the game Olave dominated in throughout his time as a Buckeye. Then, after gaining 15 pounds of muscle in his first full offseason in Columbus, the former first-round pick became a star receiver for the Buckeyes as a sophomore. No matter where Olave lined up at receiver, he used his playmaking ability, route-running and speed to get open and make plays.

When we look back on Tate's career, I wouldn't be surprised if we could just substitute Tate's name for Olave's in the above paragraph.

That said, Tate also compares his skill set to two other recent Ohio State receiving greats – Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba – as well as some of the NFL’s best wideouts.

“I like how Davante (Adams) gets off the line and freezes the DB,” Tate said. “Stefon (Diggs)’s route running is everything, he makes guys look silly. Jaxon routes players up and makes great catches. Garrett Wilson makes plays on the ball. Any jump ball is Garrett’s.”

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