Stamps' Tate enjoys primo CFL poll position
By Ian Busby, QMI Agency
|Calgary Stampeders QB Drew Tate placed third in a poll of CFL players on who they'd pick first in an expansion draft. PHOTO BY AL CHAREST/CALGARY SUN
CALGARY - In a CFL players’ poll taken by TSN, Drew Tate placed third in the category of expansion draft pick.
Despite only two starts for the Calgary Stampeders at the time, Tate drew 10.8% of the voting and ranked behind Montreal Alouettes living legend Anthony Calvillo (26%) and rising B.C. Lions star Travis Lulay (18.6%).
But that hardly shocks Dick Olin, who was Tate’s high school coach at Baytown, Texas, and is also his stepfather.
“He started for us in ninth grade,” said Olin, who attended Friday’s Stampeders practice and will make the trip to Edmonton for Tate’s first playoff start Sunday in the West semifinal.
“That never happens in Texas. He threw for 2,200 yards and was first-team all-district. We knew he had something special. He set a bunch of records, but we threw the football all the time. We just said to him, ‘Hey, go win.’
“His first year, everybody said he was playing because he was the coach’s son. He was unanimous all-district. I couldn’t vote for him. Seven other coaches said he was the best quarterback in the league. The nepotism quickly went by the wayside.”
This isn’t the first time Olin will see Tate play in the CFL, but it will be the most important one for father and son. Last season, Olin came up for a Stampeders home game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
When Tate was a star at Iowa, the quarterback can count the times Olin wasn’t there on one hand, even though he was busy coaching under Friday Night Lights in Texas.
“For three years, he missed only two games,” Tate said. “It’s remarkable how he made every trip. We played at 11 in the morning. He wouldn’t even go to sleep. He would go home, pick up his clothes and go to the airport. It’s a special thing he did come up.”
Olin came into Tate’s life when the youngster was just five years old, and the impressionable kid instantly became the ballboy for Olin’s team.
Tate’s older brother Lake was a linebacker, and Drew was always hanging around the team. In order to even play pickup ball with the older boys, Drew had to prove he could handle the intensity.
Throughout his college career, Tate wore No. 5 to signify the age difference between him and his brother. He wears four with the Stamps because five is retired.
Always playing with bigger kids is likely why he has such a cool demeanour when steps on the field against men his same age. It’s the poise Tate has shown that makes CFL observers drool.
“When you are playing with older people, you have to do what they ask or you don’t survive,” Olin said. “There was no mercy or pity on him whatsoever.”
Olin is now head coach of the Lewisville Fighting Farmers in suburban Dallas, and he brought his offensive coordinator, Troy Rogers, on the trip with him to the West semifinal.
In three starts, Tate has yet to taste defeat as the Stampeders’ starting pivot. Certainly, his peers realize his potential in becoming a star quarterback, but Tate was a bit surprised finishing third in the TSN poll.
“Who voted? The players? I have to say thanks to those guys,” Tate said. “I’m not sure how I got in front of Ricky Ray or Darian Durant.
“It doesn’t help us win or lose games, so I can’t pay too much attention to it.”
When Tate takes the field in Edmonton Sunday, it will only be a month since he was named the team’s starting quarterback. He’s getting plenty of attention since taking over from Henry Burris, but he’s taking it all in stride.
“This comes with the job,” Tate said. “It’s a natural thing. The backup comes in and wins three games, and now, we’re going into the playoffs. It’s only natural for that to happen. I don’t let it be a distraction. I turn it into a positive and move on to the next day.”