The Washington Times - August 16, 2009, 06:28AM

It took until the second half of yesterday’s Maryland scrimmage, but it was bound to happen eventually.

Kenny Tate intercepted a pass.



Oh, and he had five tackles, including two for loss. And yes, there was a sack in the mix, too.

Just like this time last year, when Tate was making his adjustment to playing safety at the college level after expecting to line up at wideout, the man passes the eyeball test on the field. People that big (6-4, 225 pounds) usually don’t move that fast.

But he’s also ridiculously productive, picking off about a pass a day while also factoring in on the blitz.

“This year is a lot easier for me,” Tate said. “Coming in last year, I was still offense-minded-wise. It’s a whole other mindset for defense. You have to be tough and see everything. You have to be able to react. I think I’m a more defensive-minded player now. It’s coming easier.”

An easier game for Tate might just be Maryland’s most frightening development for opponents since last season. Yes, lots of guys have improved. But that happens everywhere, with players of all shapes, sizes and talent levels.

It’s when guys who are obviously elite —- and Tate, who made his commitment announcement on TV, qualifies —- take a leap that team can demonstrably benefit.

A defensive scheme to unleash his abilities doesn’t hurt, either.

“Coach [Don] Brown has set the tone by telling the safeties we have to make plays,” Tate said. “He set us up in the defense where it’s easy to make plays. We just have to go out and make them.”

—- Patrick Stevens