Ohio State Wide Receiver Carnell Tate Says Freshman Year Was “Definitely A Confidence-Booster” As He Prepares for Likely Starting Job As Sophomore

By Dan Hope on March 2, 2024 at 6:15 pm
Carnell Tate

Few Ohio State freshmen have ever received as much praise from their coaches and teammates as Carnell Tate did in 2023.

Ryan Day and Brian Hartline repeatedly spoke highly of Tate during his freshman year, complimenting his professional approach and readiness to play. Denzel Burke predicted Tate would be a future first-round pick, saying “he’s been him since he got here.” Marvin Harrison Jr. offered perhaps the highest praise, saying that Tate was already further along as a freshman than Harrison was entering his sophomore year, the first of Harrison’s two unanimous All-American seasons.

“I think he'll be one of the best receivers to ever come through Ohio State,” Harrison said last August.

All of that praise bolstered Tate’s belief that he could make an early impact for the Buckeyes.

“It definitely boosts your confidence and shows that you're able to compete at a high level and then that you're doing so well at an early age,” Tate told Eleven Warriors on Saturday at The 1870 Society’s Open House at the Woody. “It’s definitely a confidence-booster.”

How highly Ohio State’s coaches already thought of Tate last season was evidenced by how much he played as he recorded the fourth-most snaps of any wide receiver behind only the starting trio of Harrison, Julian Fleming and Emeka Egbuka. He caught 18 passes – the fifth-most ever for a true freshman Ohio State receiver behind only Cris Carter, David Boston, Garrett Wilson and Ted Ginn Jr. – for 264 yards and one touchdown, giving Buckeye fans an early glimpse of his talent.

Tate feels fortunate he was able to play as much as he did right away.

“Everything’s been a blessing,” Tate said. “Getting here, embracing the role as a true freshman, showing my talents early, so it’s been awesome.”

Tate left his hometown of Chicago before his junior year of high school to play at IMG Academy, and he believes his two years in the prestigious program in Bradenton, Florida, helped prepare him to be ready to play right away at Ohio State. And he believes the mindset he brought with him to Columbus gave him a leg up on the typical freshman.

“I just bought into the program earlier before all the other guys and stuff like that,” Tate said. “That’s the quickest way to see the field.”

Seeing the success so many recent Ohio State wide receivers such as Harrison, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba have had under Brian Hartline’s coaching gave Tate good reason to buy into the program right away.

“Knowing the path that’s set down there for me that I can follow, that’s the next first-round receiver, so it's been great,” Tate said.

Tate dealt with tragedy off the field during his first year at Ohio State when his mother, Ashley Griggs, was shot and killed in Chicago in July. Tate said the support of his fellow Buckeyes helped him cope with that loss.

“They were always there for me,” Tate said. “Lending me a helping hand, they are my brothers. They’ve been there for me through my ups and downs whenever I needed them the most.”

With the support he’s received both on and off the field from his coaches and peers, Tate knows he made the right decision by signing with Ohio State out of high school.

“I'm in the spot I am right now because of choosing to come here,” Tate said.

“Everything’s been a blessing. Getting here, embracing the role as a true freshman, showing my talents early, so it’s been awesome.”– Carnell Tate on his first year at Ohio State

Going into his sophomore year with the Buckeyes, Tate is expected to be a full-time starter in Ohio State’s 2024 receiving corps. He will likely play primarily on the outside following the departures of Harrison and Fleming, though he also played some snaps in the slot last season when Egbuka was sidelined by injury, giving him the capability to line up wherever Ohio State thinks he can make the biggest impact.

“I showed I can play inside when Emeka got hurt and I could play outside when I subbed in, so it doesn’t really matter to me,” Tate said.

Had Egbuka entered the 2024 NFL draft as expected, Tate would potentially be in line to be Ohio State’s No. 1 receiver in just his second collegiate season. But Tate is excited he gets to play alongside Egbuka for another year.

“It helps us a lot,” Tate said of Egbuka. “He’s technically the oldest in the room right now as far as experience-wise, so he's definitely a helping hand.”

The starting lineup around Tate and Egbuka could be rounded out by either fellow sophomore Brandon Inniss or five-star freshman Jeremiah Smith, who also played their high school football in Florida. Tate expects both of them to make an impact for the Buckeyes this season. He described Smith as a “freak” and says Inniss, who is one of his closest friends, “can contribute a lot” this year.

“Me and Brandon are tight. We were roommates together. So we are with each other almost every day. We're pushing each other to compete all the time,” Tate said of Inniss. “He’s definitely going to have a bigger role than he had last year.”

Tate doesn’t know yet who Ohio State’s starting quarterback will be this season, but he’s confident that whoever ends up him throwing the ball this fall will be ready to lead the offense. He described Kansas State transfer Will Howard as a “great guy” who is embracing his role at Ohio State, said Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholz are “just as hungry as Will” and believes true freshmen Air Noland and Julian Sayin have the passing ability to push for the starting job, too.

“All the quarterbacks have been doing good,” Tate said. “They all throw a great ball. So I'm expecting a lot of great things from that room.”

Visit Eleven Warriors’ YouTube page to see all of our interviews from The 1870 Society’s Open House at the Woody, including interviews with the following players:

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