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Friday, May 6, 2016

Tate signs on as newest Eagle

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Larry Anderson's eyes have seen a lot.

They've seen a lot of students and they've also seen a lot of athletes.

That being the case, it takes a lot to really catch the eye of the longtime coach and administrator at Central Methodist University (CMU).

But Thayer's Bryan Tate managed to do just that.

Tate, a standout offensive lineman for the Thayer Bobcats, signed a letter of intent on Valentine's Day to play football next fall at Central Methodist University, located in Fayette.

Of course, being part of a high school football team that has won four straight district championships, and played in back-to-back Show-Me Bowls, will help a player grab the attention of most college coaches.

But according to Anderson, currently the director of admissions at CMU, in Tate's case, there was more to the story than just what the eyes see on the gridiron.

"He's a top of the line student. And that makes a huge difference," Anderson said. "Especially for a school like Central Methodist that is so strong academically. You're just not going to find many better students than him. You want kids to go on and get their college education and football is a way to help pay for school. But the bottom line is, we want them to get their degrees."

Obviously Anderson knows a good student when he sees one.

But he also knows what it takes to make a good football player, as well.

Before moving to the administrative side of things as CMU's director of admissions, Anderson was the Eagles' head football coach for several years.

Among one of Anderson's former players is Thayer Bobcat Head Coach Billy Webber -- Tate's high school coach.

That kind of brings Anderson's connection to THS full circle.

"Bryan has good feet, good strength and he's aggressive," said Anderson. "And we're going back to more of a running game type of offense next year, so I think he'll fit in and be a big plus for us. He'll make a rapid adjustment (to the college game) because he's so intelligent."

In addition to making first team All-District for his play on the offensive line this past season, Tate also made two All-State squads (Missouri Football Coaches Association and Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters).

That's impressive.

But even more impressive was Tate's spot on the Academic All-State team, for the second year in a row.

If Tate needed any encouragement on where to attend college, he didn't have to look far to find one of CMU's biggest boosters.

"It's a really fine school. Their campus just seems to improve all the time," Webber said. "The main campus itself is a historical site. So it's an older school with a lot of tradition. And they've really improved a lot of their athletic facilities. There's turf on the football field now and they've re-done the whole stadium. And when I went there, the stadium had no lights. And now they do. They've got a brand-new weight room/locker room complex, so they've really done a lot in the last five years."

According to Webber, Tate has been a major factor in his team's history-making run the past four seasons.

"He's been a guy that we can always count on. He's a real good player -- really athletic for a lineman -- he's a big, strong kid, but he's also quick and fast," he said. "But probably more important than all that, one of the biggest things Bryan has going is he's a really smart player. When you put all those ingredients together, that helps to contribute to the success we've had."

When needed, Tate was even like an extention of his head coach on the football field.

"He could tell the other guys on the offensive line what their assignments were if they didn't know them," said Webber. "When you've got a guy that's played as many snaps as what he's played, that really makes you go as an offensive unit. And with his skill and his intelligence, he'll have a shot at playing time pretty soon (in college)."

Tate, whose dad George also played college football, said picking CMU was not a hard choice to make.

"I like the fact that it's got a small-town, family kind of atmosphere," he said. "And I like the coaches and I might get some playing time (next fall), so that all kind of added up to me choosing Central Methodist."

While he prepares to close the chapter on his high school career, there's little doubt that Tate will fondly remember his four years wearing the green-and-white of the Thayer Bobcats.

"Obviously the state (title) games stick out in my mind. But this is just a great team to be a part of," he Tate. "It's been a great four years. Most of the stuff I learned about offensive line play, I learned from coach Webber and my dad. So I'm hoping for a smooth transition to the college game."

Tate plans to major in criminal justice at Central Methodist.

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