Kenny Tate, his season ended by knee surgery, watched the Maryland football team’s penultimate game alone in his room.
As the Terrapins struggled at Wake Forest, Tate, a DeMatha Catholic High School graduate, tweeted away. Eventually, he realized quarterback Danny O’Brien — also stranded in College Park with an injury — was tweeting non-stop, too. So, they met up to watch the rest of the game together.
Tate described himself and O’Brien as “the chess players of the team” — Tate for the defense and O’Brien for the offense — which made their impromptu viewing party both incredibly knowledgeable and incredibly frustrating.
“We knew by looking at the play what was going to happen,” Tate said. “We was like, ‘Noooo!’”
Again and again, their pre-snap perceptions proved correct. When Tate thought the defense was in trouble, it was. When O’Brien thought the offense was in trouble, it was.
Not long after Maryland’s 31-10 loss, Tate, who wasn’t yet cleared to fly, decided to drive to North Carolina State for the Terrapins’ final game of the year. Although Maryland lost that one too, at least he experienced the defeat with his teammates.
Going the extra mile — or in that case, 276 miles — has endeared Tate to his teammates, and after medically redshirting last season, he has one more year with them.
“He’s a pied piper,” Maryland defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. “The kids really listen to him, really like him.”
Tate, listed first on the Terrapins’ preseason depth chart at strong-side outside linebacker, does more than just lead. He made the All-ACC team at safety as a junior.
The biggest question: Is he healthy? Maryland coach Randy Edsall said Tate will skip one practice each day during two-a-days, but the fifth-year senior’s intelligence has Edsall unconcerned about Tate's readiness.
Tate said he’s 100 percent, though he’s not the most reliable source.
“Every day, I felt like I was 100 percent,” Tate said. “But I know during rehab, I wasn’t.”
He said that was the necessary attitude to come back, but now that he’s on the verge of playing again, he’s even more excited. Monday, he put on cleats for the team photo — his first time wearing cleats since midway through last season.
“I’m feeling amazing,” Tate said. “I can’t wait to get back on the field.”