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CARTERSVILLE, Ga. - December 4, 2008 will be a day that Donavan Tate will never forget. Cartersville High School had many media outlets in attendance and Tate had family, friends and teammates there for supports as their star athlete was recognized as a U.S. Army All-American.
Tate did not want to make it out to be a big presentation, but feels honored to be among the talented prospects chosen to play in this prestigious game.
"It is a great honor for me to play in this game with all the other great athletes and great football players in this class," said Tate. "It is not just a big honor for me, but for my teammates and my coaches as well. They have helped me get to where I am today, so it is a big honor for all of us."
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound athlete received the news that he would be a part of this event over the summer and it wasn't really unexpected news.
"I was not as surprised as some may think because I have put a lot of hard work into both football and baseball, so it really wasn't a surprise, but more of a relief to show that all of my hard work has paid off. When I am playing football, I am always working out, practicing hard, and doing what I can to get better, so I was not really surprised when I got the letter. This is really just a big reward for me."
The reward is to compete against some of the top athletes in the country live on NBC in San Antonio on January 3, 2009. Is going head-to-head with athletes like Tate really a reward? He knows there will be competition, but he is looking forward to it.
"It is going to be a good test for me to see where I am because there are going to be a lot of good players out there. It will really test me and it will show me how much I need to work to keep up with those guys next year. I want to stay on top and be one of the elite athletes in college too, so it will be good to see how I match up with the other players in this game. I think I will do well and I am ready to get out there."
He knows where the Alamodome is and he knows he is playing for the East team, but he does not know what position he will play. He is a versatile athlete that has played many of the skill positions for coach Frank Barden and the Purple Hurricanes, but where he lines up does not matter to him.
"I don't really know what I would want to play out there because all those positions are fun. If I get put at safety, then I will play hard at safety, if I get put at quarterback, then I will play hard at quarterback, it really doesn't matter. This game will just give me a chance to get on the field and make some plays around other great players, so any position will be fine."
Will he be looking at this event as a statement game to prove he is one of the best in the country or will he look to just relax in the Lone Stat State for a week as he enters the year of 2009?
"I think it is a mixture of everything really," the four-star athlete out of Cartersville, Ga., stated. "It is time to have fun and get to know some other athletes, but it is also on national T.V., so you want to go out there and give it all you got to see how you compare to the best in the country. I will definitely have fun, build some relationships, and that, but I will be ready to practice and play hard, too."
He will not be playing just for himself, but he will be playing for his school, his friends, his teammates and his community.
"It is an honor to just be able to represent Cartersville High School and I just want to go out there and play hard to show people how it is done at this school. If people see me play good or bad, then they will say he is from Cartersville, so I want to go out there and represent Cartersville really well."
Cartersville is not the only city Tate will be representing now. Earlier this week after an in-home visit with North Carolina Head Coach Butch Davis, Tate gave the Tar Heels a verbal commitment.
"It is a good feeling to know that I have made my decision and I will not have to feel a sense of urgency to make one later in the process. I don't have to worry about where I am going to go to college anymore, but I now know what I am going to be a part of and to say I am going to North Carolina feels good."
The No. 7-ranked athlete made his college choice and he was named a U.S. Army All-American, but Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini gave Tate and his family some news that capped off a near perfect day. It will be a day Tate never forgets.
"I couldn't believe they made December 4, 2008 Donavan Tate Day," Tate said in somewhat disbelief. "It is a day I will be able to look back on and say I was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and just think about everything I accomplished to get to this point. All of the hard work really has paid off and I can't believe they named today after me."