Former top MLB draft pick Donavan Tate to join Arizona as 26-year-old QB

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez announced the addition of a new quarterback on Wednesday who is a bit older than your average college freshman.

According to the Arizona Star, the new Wildcat is named Donavan Tate (Rodriguez could not confirm because Tate’s paperwork hasn’t been finalized). Folks who have followed recruiting over the past decade might recognize the name. Tate was a four-star, top 100 recruit way back in the class of 2009, but decided not to play college football after being selected No. 3 overall by the San Diego Padres in the Major League Baseball Draft.

Fast forward eight years later, Tate, now 26 and out of baseball, will join the Wildcats as a walk-on this summer.

Tate’s story is a colorful one. He never advanced past the Single-A in parts of six seasons in the minors with the Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. Along the way, he dealt with a series of injuries and served a 50-game drug suspension. In a 2015 story in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Tate detailed his struggles with drugs and alcohol, including two rehab stints.

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Donavan Tate was the third pick in the 2009 MLB draft. Now he’s giving football a shot. (AP Photo/The Daily Tribune News, Skip Butler)
Donavan Tate was the third pick in the 2009 MLB draft. Now he’s giving football a shot. (AP Photo/The Daily Tribune News, Skip Butler)

Tate played his last minor league game in 2016 and is now trying a different sport. The Cartersville, Georgia, native starred on the football field in high school and actually signed with North Carolina before deciding to pursue baseball. He’ll enter a quarterback group that includes returning starter Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate. Two other freshmen, K’hari Lane and Rhett Rodriguez (coach Rich Rodriguez’s son), will also enter the fold. Tate also has his full eligibility in football and will be considered a true freshman.

Tate, whose tuition will be paid by the Padres (as agreed to in his original contract), is following a familiar path. Many others, including Arizona defensive back Malcolm Holland, have played minor league baseball before deciding to pursue college football. The most prominent examples are Chris Weinke and Brandon Weeden, both quarterbacks. Weinke was 25 when he landed at FSU, where he became a three-year starter and later had a seven-year NFL career.

Weeden was 24 when he enrolled at Oklahoma State in 2007. He worked his way up the depth chart and became the starter for his final two seasons before becoming the oldest first-round draft selection in NFL history when picked No. 22 overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2012. Weeden, now 33, is a backup for the Houston Texans.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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