Losing two running backs amongst the first five picks in the NFL draft is not only historic for Auburn, but it continues a great running back tradition. What began with Bo Jackson continued last season with Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams is now being extended to the class of 2006. Newark (Md.) Snow Hill running back Benjamin Tate could be the next great tailback for the Tigers.
"I just committed a few minutes ago," said the 5-foot-10, 204-pounder. "I really wanted to hold off until I committed, but I just knew that Auburn was for me. I talked to coach Gran and he was really excited."
Tate, who had offers from more than 30 programs, visited Auburn recently and came away with a very good feeling.
"I went to their two-day senior camp down there and I really loved it," he said. "I clicked with the coaches a lot.
The coaching staff at Auburn has mentioned comparisions to the NFL's No. 2 overall pick this past April, Ronnie Brown.
"Yes, they compare me to Ronnie a lot," he said. "They said we're the same size when he came in, but I might be a little faster than him. He's a great running back and being compared to the No. 1 running back taken in the NFL draft is really nice. It's a great compliment."
Tate will take his official visit to Auburn on Sept. 2 for the weekend the Tigers face Georgia Tech. The tailback said he might take some other official visits as well.
"You only get to do this once and for a guy from my area to get so many opportunities, I don't want waste that," he said. "I'm thinking about Maryland, Penn State, Virginia and North Carolina but I haven't set any of them up yet."
Tate originally wanted to take all five visits and decide and said he's almost positive that Auburn will be the choice in the end.
"I'm 90-percent sure," he said. "I think coach Gran knows I want to go to Auburn and I might not even need any more officials after I visit Auburn. I hear the atmosphere is crazy."
Tate feels he's in good hands with his coaching choice.
"Coach Gran coached both Ronnie and Carnell as well as Rudi Johnson and Deuce McAllister and some other NFL backs," he said. "He and I clicked, we see things the same way and he thinks I have a great deal of potential, which is great coming from him. He loves the fact that I'm still only 16 and have much more development to come."
Tate put up amazing numbers at Stephen Decatur last season, rushing for 2,886 yards and 41 touchdowns. He will play for Snow Hill this upcoming season, where he'll have to share the ball more.
"It doesn't matter to me," he said. "I just want a state title."
And his goals at Auburn?
"A national title and to improve as much as I can and hopefully follow those guys to the NFL."