In 2012, former Bowling Green head coach Dave Clawson was starting the fourth year of his five-year plan to turn the Falcons into title contenders in the Mid-American Conference. He had the Falcons progressing well on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. But, the team had one glaring weakness…special teams.
After three years of terribly inconsistent field goal kicking by the Falcons, Clawson turned over those duties to a red-shirt freshman with no college game experience. Tyler Tate rewarded Clawson’s faith in him by connecting on 70 percent of field goal attempts his first year, as the Falcons went 8-5 on the season and played in the Military Bowl against San Jose State.
The following year, the Falcons won the MAC championship, going 10 and 4, and Tate played a major role. He made 18 of 22 field goal attempts and 59 of 61 extra points on the year. His 113 points scored was sixth-most in school history in a single season, and his 18 field goals made were the second most ever by a Falcon in a season.
Last year as a junior, Tate shattered the single season field goal record by making 23 of his 29 attempts, including a career long 52 yards. He was named a third-team All-MAC placekicker, as well as a first team Capital One Academic All-American. Tate carries a 3.97 grade point average and also earned MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete and Academic All-MAC.
Big things are expected out of Tate and his teammates again this year. The Falcons are heavy favorites to repeat as MAC East Champions and return to Detroit for the MAC Championship game. Tate was recently was one of 30 players named to the 2015 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker preseason watch list.
With 10 starters returning on offense in 2015, the Falcons are expected to once again be a high scoring bunch in head coach Dino Babers’ second season. If that’s the case, Tate could leave Bowling Green with every Falcon placekicking record imaginable. Out of the 30 kickers on the Lou Groza Preseason Watch List, only two had made field goals last year than Tate...Roberto Aguayo (30) of Florida State and Josh Lambert (27) of West Virginia.
Both those guys figure to have a great shot a playing on Sundays next year. Tate has a realistic shot at playing in the NFL as well next season. He certainly has the accuracy needed and his right leg should only get stronger as he continues to mature. Tate recently got a visit and some great professional advice from former Falcon kicker Shaun Suisham. The 12-year NFL veteran and current Pittsburgh Steeler kicker came back to Bowling Green to talk to Tate and his teammates about being a professional.
Tate may well get the chance to go to camp with an NFL team this time next year, but for now, he and his Falcon teammates have their sights set on the Tennessee Volunteers and the season opener on September 5 in Nashville.