Well, looks like we have an answer: Kenny Tate, Maryland's star junior safety, is skipping the draft and returning to Maryland for his senior season. And yes, this is obviously fantastic news. Via @InsideMDSports:
Despite some false reports, Kenny Tate didn't declare for the Draft, a UMD source says. Tate's return is huge; he could be an AA next year.
No, I didn't have time to get the "Tate for Thorpe" banner whipped up, but it'll be happening in the coming days. After being relatively overlooked by the national media despite a stellar junior season, next year should be all his. If he's not a Thorpe candidate right away, something's wrong.
When Tate came in a few years as a highly-recruited (if slightly less celebrated than expected) wide receiver, I can't imagine anyone thought he'd turn into a top-flight safety. And, for a while, he didn't. His freshman year was quiet and his sophomore campaign, supposedly his breakout year, was little better before he went down with a season-ending injury. In fact, no really expected him to put together as dominant a season as he did. He came in owning fools against Navy, and everything just went up from there.
His physicality and natural athleticism stand out at the position, but so does his playmaking ability. He seems to always be around the ball and always making something happen. He was a big part of this year's turnover-forcing defense, and things should only improve next year. It will, after all, be Don Brown's third with the current players.
Tate's return also prevents the unhappy possibility that Maryland would be starting two new safeties in addition to two new linebackers. Given the inconsistency of the corners last season, that had disastrous potential. Instead, Tate's return transforms the unit into what may be the defense's biggest strength.
(In a strange bit of Tate-related trivia: Kevin Dorsey was actually rated higher than Tate coming into college, despite Tate receiving a billion times more hype. Dorsey's hype was prevented due to an early commitment to Maryland. It's surprising that Tate has blossomed so much while Dorsey has 18 career receptions entering his fourth season with the program.)
Anyway, for all the hype that Danny O'Brien gets - and it's deserved - Tate's the best player on the team right now. Obviously, his return is gigantic.