Lars Tate ‘couldn’t be more proud’ of son Donavan

Only Herschel Walker scored more career TDs than Lars Tate, who had 36 from 1984-87. But today the former Georgia tailback is best known for being Donavan Tate's dad. (Courtesy of UGA)

Only Herschel Walker scored more career TDs than Lars Tate, who had 36 for Georgia from 1984-87. But today the former Bulldog is best known for being Donavan Tate's dad. (Courtesy of UGA)

If you’re not uber-agent Scott Boras or San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers, you’re not going to get Donavan Tate on the phone these days. Even though I share one of their last names (no relation), I’m neither guy, so attempts to reach the baseball/football phenom have been unsuccessful.

But I was able to reach somebody close to Donavan Tate. His father, Lars Tate, and I went to college together. Well, not exactly together. He was a star tailback for the Georgia Bulldogs and later played for the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Bucs. I was just a regular student living in a dorm who wrote an occasional story for The Red & Black student newspaper, at least one or two on Lars Tate.

So I’m pretty sure Lars was just being polite when he said, “Yeah, yeah, of course I remember you. Been a long time, hasn’t it? How ya doin’?”

Anyway, it is Lars’ son who is in the news these days. In case you haven’t heard, Donavan was the No. 3 overall pick in this past June’s baseball draft. That came after the Cartersville High graduate signed a scholarship to play football at North Carolina in February. To bring you up to date, Donavan showed up late to the Tar Heels’ preseason camp this past weekend, worked out with the team for three days, then came home to Cartersville this past Wednesday.

The San Diego Padres thought enough of Donavan Tate's baseball abilities that they selected him No. 3 in the draft. (ESPN photo)

It would appear Donavan’s signing with the Padres is imminent. Baseball’s deadline to sign draft picks is Monday and something certainly compelled him to come back home. Otherwise, Donavan will return to UNC and won’t be eligible to be drafted again until after his junior year in college.

Lars Tate, for one, is enjoying all this.

“Everybody keeps talking that about that boy,” said Lars, who lives in Riverdale. “Everybody’s worried about what’s going to happen. He’s just relaxing and playing golf.”

Lars said he’s not intimately involved in negotiations. He did not marry Donavan’s mother, Tracy Sims, who lives in Cartersville, and doesn’t see Donavan every day. But he talks to his son regularly by phone and is kept up to date with all the goings-on.

“I told him from the beginning, he doesn’t need to play football,” Lars said. “I told him, ‘you need to swing that Louisville Slugger.’ The NFL is Not For Long, that’s what it stands for. My knees hurt right now.”

But Lars said his son is indeed serious about playing football. He said North Carolina recruited him and recruited him hard to play both sports in Chapel Hill. Donavan could play any skill position but was wearing No. 19 and working with the quarterbacks during his brief stay on the UNC campus.

“He loves football; he loves contact like his dad,” said Lars, who remains No. 2 behind Herschel Walker at UGA for career rushing touchdowns (36). “He’s big and he’s fast and he can play anywhere on the field. I just hate that he didn’t go to Georgia. But he didn’t want to go there and be Lars Tate’s son. He wanted to be his own man and I respect that. He’s a smart kid, too. He’s a good student and needs to get an education. But I guess he can do that either way.”

Lars said Boras is seeking a $6.5 million signing bonus from the Padres (down, he said, from an initial demand of $10 million). It’ll be interesting to see what happens, these being stingy economic times, the Padres being the Padres and Donavan having some strong negotiating options behind the mighty Boras.

“He wants to play football but I told him he could play baseball for life,” Lars Tate said. “He’ll do what’s right. Donavan’s a great young man, very intelligent, strong-minded. And I know where he gets it from.”

50 comments Add your comment


August 14th, 2009
6:52 am

I was an undergrad while the “mighty” Lars ran at Georgia. He was just an ok back in a very disappointing time for UGA football.

Although he was a very nice guy judging from the 2-3 times he came across the room at revoltin’ Bolton dining hall to talk to my girlfriend (now wife). He didn’t speak to any of the rest of us at the table, but I’m sure he was in a hurry to get back to the books.

Our 15-yr-old son loves this story…ah, the salad days.


August 14th, 2009
7:52 am

thanks for the chuckle UR


August 14th, 2009
7:57 am

Pick up the check young man.


August 14th, 2009
9:15 am

To be fair, any running back following Herschel isn’t going to look all that great. History, statistics, and perspective would suggest otherwise.


August 14th, 2009
9:35 am

That is funny UR. I am no GA fan, but you are being a little rough on the guy. You might have done the same thing if you were in his shoes.
He was a pretty good running back. He did play in the NFL. But again thanks I needed the laugh. Besides, you won, you got the girl.

DT Fan

August 14th, 2009
9:41 am

Nice to know his father is “proud”, but wonder where he’s been the past 18 years? Funny how all of a sudden the press is interested in “comments” from Lars, when Lars has never been involved with this young man. Sad as it may be, Donavan Tate is who he is because of a lot of hard work on his part and guidance from his MOTHER. No credit should be given to his dad.

C'ville Support

August 14th, 2009
9:47 am

I think before the AJC puts a story in print they should check the source of what is being quoted. Maybe accurate information is no longer a concern, but before I put my name on an article, I’d check the specifics. I know this family well and I can honestly say Lars is not involved with anything with Donavan! This is a terrific young man and everyone in Cartersville wishes him the best of luck!


August 14th, 2009
10:13 am

This is a bunch of bull. Lars had nothing to do with Donavan. Funny how he wants to now that there is probably going to be millions involved.

A Local Fan

August 14th, 2009
11:47 am

It’s funny how Lars throws all of this out there. Since he’s not involved in Donavan’s life, how he came up with those figures is impossible. Since Day 1, Lars hasn’t been a father to Donavan. His mother and other family members have taken on that role and helped guide him to where he is today. Lars had nothing to do with Donavan and is only coming out now, because he’s sees “GREEN” and thinks he’s going to get some money out of his son. To quote someone who has nothing to do with Donavan is irresponsible journalism and shows a total lack of respect to those who actually raised Donavan. Maybe one day the AJC will figure out that sometimes the best route is the classy route. I’m guessing the AJC has burned the bridge with Donavan and his family. Good luck getting anything else from them.


August 14th, 2009
1:43 pm

No where in this article did Lars Tate give the impression that he has given anything to his son other than his last name. The only problem I had with this article was this part.
“Donavan was a running back and safety at Cartersville High but was wearing No. 19 and working with the quarterbacks during his brief stay on the UNC campus.” Donavan was the starting quarterback most of his junior and senior seasons at Cartersville High School.

Chip Towers

August 14th, 2009
1:46 pm

To be fair, Lars Tate didn’t pick up the phone to call me. I called him. And he didn’t claim to have raised his son. In fact, he told me he doesn’t see Donavan much. All he said was that he told Donavan he should play baseball and he’s proud of him. I never intended to get into the family dynamic. Perhaps I should have. . . .

Thanks for the responses.

Gerald Ball

August 14th, 2009
1:54 pm

Hmmm … looks like a lot of people just got on here to bash Lars Tate. Oh well … I see how “loyal” UGA fans are when a guy isn’t scoring touchdowns for them anymore. And by the way, Tate was more than “just an OK back.” The guy was a Heisman candidate. He would have had a shot at the award too had Vince Dooley not started giving the freshman who was slated to take over for Tate the next season some carries (as was Dooley’s custom) which prevented Tate from racking up the stats required to seriously contend for the award. And Tate would have been a much better NFL player had he not gone to TAMPA BAY to play behind that notorious line. Quick, name the best RB in Tampa Bay Bucs history? That would be Warrick Dunn and his 3.9 yards per carry despite all that speed. Name the second best? Third best? You get the picture.

Chip Towers

August 14th, 2009
2:23 pm

Poof! My bad, I’ll fix that.


August 14th, 2009
2:34 pm

Yes Chip, perhaps you should have done your homework. Lars Tate is a deadbeat dad who is a shrivveled up, crack head. He was a nice looking guy at one time. Not any more….


August 14th, 2009
2:35 pm

Gerald Ball – other than the guy who almost lost his girlfriend to him, no Dawg fans are bashing Lars Tate. Seems to be strictly people from Cartersville with knowledge of their family dynamics. Since I have no personal knowledge of such, my impressions are solely based on his prowess with the football. You’re not Reggie’s dad, are you?


August 14th, 2009
2:56 pm

Chip, haven’t you realized by now you are dealing with a bunch of idiots on these blogs? Your story was right on and never implied that Lars was a part of Donavan’s life. Just as you said, proud of Donavan and gave him his perspective on his future pro career. It he, Lars, is such a bad guy, why does his son talk to him several times a week? Maybe folks who don’t know anything about either Lars or Donavan should just STFU.


August 14th, 2009
3:26 pm

You want to see a better local athlete that’s been flying under the radar for years??? Why don’t you check out a kid named Evan Hilton. This kid can pitch and I promise you this, you’ll know who he is next year if you already don’t. My son plays on the same team as him at East Cobb and I don’t know what yall are doing in Cartersville but keep doing it!!


August 14th, 2009
3:43 pm

Giving credit where credit is due…I was there before and after Donavan was born…as his mom and I were “very close friends” back then. WE…meaning his mom Traci, and her family, me, and my family, and Lar’s and his family) were all there to help give him the love he needed while he was very young. But it was his mom who raised him to be who he is today, so she deserves most the credit. My son and Donavan were unofficial step-brothers, best friends at the time, and I still consider Donavan my step son thru the experince. It is in my opinion, that as humans, we do not have the ability to control who our parents are to be, but we do have control over how we live our lives, and document the truth of our pasts, and give credit where credit is due…Donavan grew up under his mother’s wing, and she did a GREAT job in raising Donavan as a single parent…and even though Lars was not there all the time, he is still Donavan’s father, and he deserves to be very proud of his son, no matter what, because he did give Donavan something very very special…the genes of a great athlete, and the moral support of a father along the way!!! I, a father myself, want to thank Lars and Traci, for giving us Donavan, and I would also like to thank Lars for his football dad’s advise for DONAVAN TATE to…Go out and “Swing that Louisville Slugger.” Great advise to a great kid!!! Sincerely, Craig Henry

Dave In Tampa

August 14th, 2009
4:06 pm

I agree with an earlier post. I worked with Tracy a few years back and she was Donavan’s biggest supporter. She was at every game of Donavan’s and proudly talked about his accomplishments to the office the next day. I never saw him play, yet felt like I did because of Tracy’s updates and enthusiasm. Good luck DT! I know the Braves could use you.

Sammy Jones

August 14th, 2009
4:10 pm


August 14th, 2009
4:31 pm

Congrats to this kid for being his own man.


August 14th, 2009
4:42 pm

You can tell one of the key problems is…..this family such as it is does not even know how to spell Donovan properly….”Donavan”?? This is like Wiullaim, I suppose…..this is indicative of what happens to folks at UGA…..oh, well. Maybe when he makes it rich he can go to court and legally change his name so he won’t appear illiterate.

Around the Mission: 8/14 Padres Links

August 14th, 2009
4:50 pm

[...] Lars Tate ‘couldn’t be more proud’ of son Donavan | AJC College Sports Recruiting"Everybody’s worried about what’s going to happen. He’s just relaxing and playing golf." [...]

Eagles hater

August 14th, 2009
4:50 pm

PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Philadelphia Eagles have chosen to sign a man who hanged dogs from trees, electrocuted them with jumper cables, held them underwater until they drowned in his swimming pool, and even threw his own family dogs into the fighting pit to be torn to shreds while he laughed,” said the group in a statement.


August 14th, 2009
9:44 pm

Justc another attemp to blast this guy, L.Tate for getting this caucasion girl pregnant. Alwats tring to find the deadbeat father in A.A. communities!!

canes again 09

August 14th, 2009
11:33 pm

Evan Hilton? Goes to Woodland, not Cartersville. Being mentioned in the same blog with Donovan?????????????
Nice ball player, but you won’t see him wearing Purple……………


August 15th, 2009
6:02 am

Chip Towers thanks for the article. It made sense to interview Lars about his son. Nothing in the article said he had raised him and been there always for him, that wasn’t the point of the article. Lars is very proud of his son and it was great to hear some of what he said about DT. To others save your comments for different type article. This wasn’t it.


August 15th, 2009
7:39 am

misterwax…a conservative republican, no doubt, who defines family for the rest of us and now determines how one chooses to spell their own name. Is there any wonder why they are a dying breed…thank God.


August 15th, 2009
12:55 pm

People, give Chip a break. His article was accurate and I found it very interesting. I hope he will follow up on Donavan’s progress.

If Chip said the sky was blue, someone would find a way to criticize it.


August 15th, 2009
1:16 pm

Nice article Chip.


August 15th, 2009
1:20 pm

Lars Tate was ok. He enjoyed the attention he got for sure. I was a walk-on while he was there. I had to share a hot tub during training once. He never met a white woman he didn’t like, including the trainers and aeorobics instructor. Anyone else remember her?

Gerald Ball

August 15th, 2009
2:02 pm

Well, SouthGaDawg, it looks like you have hit upon the real reason why these folks are trashing the guy.


August 15th, 2009
2:37 pm

Ain’t that the truth Gerald Ball! I too was up there during the Lars Tate era… the white women loved him and he loved them right back! He was a decent back but that was the really the golden era for UGA tailbacks, with Worley, Hampton, McCluskey, Henderson, and that kid who transferred to Miami Gary all participating within a 3-5 year window.


August 16th, 2009
11:27 am

lars loves white women

The BIG Boss Man

August 16th, 2009
4:34 pm

It sounds like Lars has a lot in common with Obama’s daddy.

Ted Striker

August 16th, 2009
4:35 pm

I always liked Lars. Used to hang out with him at O’Malley’s. Speaking of O’Malley’s, can you believe that venue has now been converted to the new medical college at UGA?

Have people no common decency to respect the history of a fine institution like O’Malley’s?


August 16th, 2009
8:22 pm

Can someone tell me what does white women or Obamas father have to do with this article. The article is about a uber talented prospect in both academics and athletics. I would have loved to see DT in the same OF with Heyward but we did not have a early enough pick. Oh well I wish him the best in whatever he chooses and wish his father well. (He wasnt that good) (HAHAHAHAHA) So I guess all these people commenting made it to the league also.

ant banks

August 16th, 2009
10:14 pm

its funny listenin’ to you guys who are obviously not athletes. UR, he probably had your wife, once or twice. why else would he come over to the table while you are sittin’ there.

those girls are lined up at the dorms before and after practices, especially, when they think that one of the guys may be goin’ to the league. i am sorry that Lars didn’t get to raise his son, but the women hound the hell out of those athletes tryin’ to be the “seed carrier”. i wish they would ask the mother about the relationship with Lars developed. i bet she wanted him way more than he wanted her.

i am talkin’ from experience…i could tell you some stories about “daddy’s little angel” from Brumby Hall. lookin’ for an athlete.

Chuck Uga

August 17th, 2009
12:05 am

ant banks, you nailed it.

Where are all da white women at?!


August 17th, 2009
6:13 am

Donavan go to UNC man we need a great athletic player like you dude the money will be there and alot more if u who knows NFL may be the way to go.Its your decision make your life not your dad he did his thing at UGA make a name for yourself at UNC a bring us a championship hope to see you next year at UNC.

Recovering Sports Junkie

August 17th, 2009
9:20 am

True, any back following in Herschel’s steps would not measure up. But Tate was outplayed by Rodney Hampton, then a true freshman, who had more heart, more talent and more maturity than Tate ever did. Regardless of his stats, if I could turn back time and sign any back in UGA history, Tate would not make my top 10. Character matters.


August 17th, 2009
10:29 am

Actually, the sky is more gray today…….

Sexually deprived

August 17th, 2009
4:08 pm

I was in 4th or 5th grade when Lars was at UGA and to this day he remains one of my favorites. I don’t know why I just liked his style of play. So I’m going to stand up for him a bit…. I don’t care if he likes white women. Hell, I’m white and I think black women are sexy and I wish I were popular like him so I could get with one or two. So who cares about what he did sexually when he was king of campus. Secondly, the comment about him being a crack head is way out of bounds. There has never been any evidence of that to speak of.


August 18th, 2009
5:31 pm

Ok lets tell the truth first of all I think I know Lars Tate better than anyone else. You hur his feelinf by saying that he is a crack head wich I know for a fact that he is not on crack. This is for the people who think they know about Lars Tate esp. the ones in Carterville, Ga. Did you know that Lars went to Donavan footballs games that he went to his baseball games and his grandmother which is Lars mother were also there, and they were at Donavan graduation. Lars Tate is not a dead beat dad, if the truth be told Lars took care of his child he paid child support every month until Donavan graduate. Chips you got your facts right how else would Lars know What is going on with Donavan if he did not talk with Donavan mother are Donavan. There is always three sides to every story your side,his side, and then there is the truth.

A Friend

August 21st, 2009
12:59 pm

Hey Hey Hey, I just want to say Traci, you did good girl, that boy of yours is a good kid, you taught him everything. Traci, I know you had some hard times but you did a great job with Donavan. You are a sweetheart and I am so proud for Donavan and for you. Children love their parents no matter what, if they are a part of their life or not. Everyone should just be proud and happy for them. Donavan will never forget his mom, she has always been their for him and is a great mother, she taught him right. Way to go DONAVAN.

Pissed off

August 27th, 2009
2:00 pm

Donavon’s mother needs to fess up and tell the truth to her son regarding her relationship w/ his dad. THEY WERE NEVER MARRIED and she led that boy to beleive otherwise!!!!!
Now that the truth is out, she wants to have peopele slander Lars because she is too selfish to admit the truth!!!!
GOD DOESNT LIKE UGLY!!!!!! Tell the truth and shame the devil!!
Traci, one day you will have to answer for the lies and the grief that could have been avoided!!!!!

Fact Checker

September 19th, 2009
10:14 am

Evan Hilton would not be caught wearing purple by his own choice. To Canes Again 09 maybe you should do research before you post a comment.


September 22nd, 2009
2:34 pm

Lol why would Evan Hilton want to wear purple when he struck out nine against yall last year and Donovan didn’t have a hit. It was at Cartersville so he had to settle for the walk since he couldn’t hit it. Argue with me some more Canes Again 09 lol.

cartersville sports fan

October 30th, 2009
11:31 pm

Evan Hilton rocks!! If you want an aggressive, competitive ballplayer, you won’t find someone more talented than Evan! Now, who was Donovan Tate again???


January 4th, 2010
1:46 am

Who would have thought a simple blog about a former Georgia star’s son could lead to such nasty responses? I’m not saying some of them might not be true, I don’t know. I do know Lars was a great back at Georgia and was popular with the ladies on campus (I too was there during that era). He was a BMOC and deservedly so. He was definitely one of the bright spots on the football team, especially given the quarterback play during that time and having to follow in Herschel’s shadow.

I hope his son does well with whatever he ends up doing in his career.