Serra quarterback Khalil Tate, an Arizona commit, has youth on his side

Scott Altenberg has had plenty of time to watch Khalil Tate grow.

He’s seen it since Tate first roamed the Serra sidelines as a sixth grader serving as the team’s ball boy.

Altenberg saw it last season, especially … perhaps, with an even more keen eye.

Tate (6-foot-2, 203 pounds) always knew he wanted to be the Serra quarterback. Alternberg knew that Tate would one day end up being his signal caller. But the opportunity to take over the position full-time didn’t come as quickly as originally planned.

Once Caleb Wilson transferred in, it became a platoon situation for the Cavaliers at quarterback to start the 2014 season. For the first half of the season, Wilson and Tate were co-starters. Wilson, more of a thrower; Tate, the dual-threat. 

"From last January (2014), ever since (former Serra quarterback) Jalen (Greene) left, I thought I was going to be the starter," Tate recalled. "So, when the season came and I wasn’t starting (full-time), I was, kind of, hurt because I was feeling like I should be the starter."

Tate needed that time to develop as much as he needed to simply grow a bit more — he was young by Friday night standards. 

Khalil Tate: ‘It helped me know that I’m the guy and I can’t make dumb decisions, so I just got to be on my A-game at all times and make few mistakes. You can’t take anything for granted. Not everything is given to everybody.’

He played his entire junior season (2014) as a 15-year old. 

"He was so young and he had trouble managing the game early," Altenberg said. "Khalil needed those first five weeks of constant monitoring of having a guy over his shoulder. Without it, I don’t know where he goes last year."

Tate spent the 2014 season trending up. He finished the season with 1,395 yards in the air, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions while also running for 1,287 yards and 17 scores as Serra finished 8-3 overall.

This offseason, he committed to Arizona.

After losing eight players to Division 1 schools, the Cavaliers will return a young team in 2015 led by its youthful quarterback. Tate will play the 2015 season as a 16-year-old and by the time he graduates from Serra next spring, he won’t have too many months underneath his belt as a 17-year-old. 

In a time when parents elect to hold their kids back a year, or more, for what can be a competitive advantage over other members in their class, Tate is the opposite. 

While Tate will be enjoying his final season of high school football as a 16-year-old senior next season, there will be countless 16-year-olds around the country getting acclimated to freshman football.

The age is rare … the skillset, too. Even more unique is the approach Tate has taken this offseason knowing he’s the team’s full-time starter, taking what he learned from his experience of splitting time at the start of 2014.

His thoughts aren’t centered around how many more yards he can tally in 2015 or touchdowns he wants to score or accumulating All-CIF accolades. Not even how he can make his voice even louder in the Serra locker room.

"It helped me know that I’m the guy and I can’t make dumb decisions, so I just got to be on my A-game at all times and make few mistakes," he said. "You can’t take anything for granted. Not everything is given to everybody."

That’s wise beyond his years.