It didn’t matter if it was track and he simultaneously was competing in the high jump, long jump and shot put while waiting on his relay to start, or playing practically every snap on the football field at multiple positions on each side of the ball.
Toriano Tate made sure his impact was felt at every position in every sport he competed in for DeKalb.
For all his accomplishments, the senior and future NIU Huskie was named the 2022 Daily Chronicle Male Athlete of the Year.
“Everything I do, I want to win at,” Tate said. “I always want to be the best. I always try my hardest. I always try to go out there and compete.”
Tate, who also was named the Daily Chronicle Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year this season, took second in the state in the long jump in Class 2A. He also set the school’s long jump record both indoors and outdoors. He also set the school indoor record in the high jump and the shot put.
On the football field, Tate not only played both ways but he played multiple positions on both sides of the ball. The all-area first team selection played wide receiver and running back on offense, and played in the secondary and at linebacker on defense, plus he played special teams.
“He’s just uber-talented, man,” DeKalb football coach Derek Schneeman said. “He’s the most talented kid I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching. He’s a kid that could literally play any position on the field. There’s no limitations to his abilities physically. To his credit he was willing to play many different positions, stepped up for us as a full, two-way starter.”
In addition to safety and linebacker, Schneeman said he felt like Tate could have been an impact player on the line as well.
“He always said at practice ‘let me play D-end for a couple of plays,’ ” Schneeman said. “ ‘Let me get after the quarterback.’ And honestly he could have done that as well.”
Tate had about 700 yards of total offense for the Barbs, 39 tackles, returned a kick for a score and blocked three kicks.
Defensive coordinator Jeff Saurbaugh, who also was Tate’s track coach, said he was very excited when he found out Tate would be a two-way player for the Barbs and see the field more defensively.
“I kind of fought for him to do that, and it was awesome,” Saurbaugh said. “We wanted to get our best athletes on the field, and he was definitely one of our better athletes. He was a difference-maker on defense for us this year.”
The Barbs ended up missing the playoffs for the first since 2012, but Tate said the team went through a lot of injuries. He said he expects the team to be much better next season.
“The football season was not ideal at all, at all,” Tate said. “I think that we played very because we had so many people that got injured, and had so many people step up and perform very good. Obviously, we had a bunch of people out, which was unfortunate. I just feel like they’re going to play way better next year.”
Just as he was all over the football field on any given Friday night, during the spring he was all over the track with multiple events at once.
In addition to his performance in field events, he also was on a pair of relays for the Barbs, helping both the 4x100 and 4x200 achieve their fastest times in more than six years.
“He’s just a special athlete that does a lot of things other kids can’t,” Saurbaugh said. “It was funny, I’d have coaches come to me and say, wait he’s doing long jump and shot put? I forgot what meet it was, but he was doing shot put, long jump and high jump at the same time and was running back and forth to all three events. And he performed well in all three events, which is more impressive.”
Now, Tate takes his talents across town to NIU, where he said he expects to play wide receiver for the Huskies. He’s a walk-on at a school and under a coach, Thomas Hammock, that has a history of rewarding players with scholarships.
“They like to win, and they like to work hard for what they’ve got,” Tate said. “They give everybody an equal opportunity, so I feel like it was a great opportunity for me.”
Schneeman said he thinks the school is getting a steal.
“It’s special. It’s rare,” Schneeman said. “And I haven’t even talked about what he did for us on special teams. He returned kicks and had some really special moments on special teams, too. He’s kind of a once-in-a-generation type talent. I think NIU is getting a steal with him. I think he was under-recruited, and I think he’s going to do well with them.”