Golden Tate is a few weeks away from being a high NFL Draft pick and starting the next phase of his career. If he had to go back in time to when he was a high school junior just preparing for college though, he would select Notre Dame all over again.
“Absolutely,” Tate said on Friday when asked if he would select Notre Dame all over again if he had to when I caught up with him in between signing autographs at an event for Steiner Sports (view the entire transcript from the Q&A here). “That’s one thing about Notre Dame – the people. The people make Notre Dame. The people are high character people – very passionate about their educations and football. It’s a great environment to be around and I think it’s what a lot of people like to surround themselves with,” he would add.
In fact, Tate mentioned that the relationships he developed at Notre Dame represented his best moment off the field during his time in South Bend. “One of the reasons you go to Notre Dame is to develop relationships with different people. I was fortunate to meet a lot of men and women who were important in society and to Notre Dame so that’s my best (off the field moment).”
Unfortunately for Notre Dame, Tate isn’t doing recruiting all over and is instead preparing for the NFL a year early after posting the single greatest season any Notre Dame wide receiver has recorded. Tate ended his junior season with 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns to go along with 186 rushing yards and another two touchdowns on the ground.
Tate’s stellar season was enough to prompt him to leave for the NFL. “I spoke with coach Weis before the season and he said unless you have 1,500 yards and about 17 touchdowns, I wouldn’t leave. Once the season ended I was right at that mark so even before the season he predicted that so it was my time to leave we thought,” he said.
Despite reaching his pre-season goals, the decision to leave Notre Dame was still tough for Tate. “It was definitely a close call,” he said. “I’ve accomplished a lot of things at Notre Dame. It would have been tough to have a better season than I did last year considering coach Weis leaving and my quarterback who I’ve been throwing with for three years so I think it would have been tough. I definitely could have accomplished it, but it’s about timing. It was my time to leave,” he would add.
Based on mock drafts, the timing does indeed seem right for Tate. The former high school running back is projected as a first round pick by most publications with the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals a few of the popular predicted destinations for the Notre Dame great.
DraftCountdown.com’s Scott Wright predicts Tate will be selected by the early 2nd round. “He should come off the board at some point in late-Round 1 or early-Round 2, possibly to a team like the Cowboys, Jets, Rams or Buccaneers,” Wright told UHND.
There is another destination for Tate that would certainly make for a good story line – Kansas City where former Irish head coach Charlie Weis is now the offensive coordinator. Some Chiefs blogs have been hoping Tate falls to them with their second round pick – #37 overall.
Speaking of Weis, Tate says that he still keeps in touch with his former head coach. “I spoke with him on my way over here. I gave him a call to see how he’s doing. He’s probably going to come back to South Bend pretty soon so I’m going to try to meet as soon as I can.”
Tate doesn’t have a preference as to where he ends up at the next level though. “I’m not really looking at any teams, they’re all looking at me I guess. I don’t really have a say where I go.”
Wherever Tate ends up at the next level, there’s three areas of his game that he wants to work on once he gets there. “There’s not one that I’d focus on, there’s three,” Tate answered when asked if there was one area of his game he thought he needed to work on at the next level. “That’s route running, blocking, and getting off the press. Those are the things I think I need to work on the most,” he added.
As Tate continues to prepare for next month’s draft, his old teammates just began the process of trying to replace his production as the Irish kicked off spring practice on Friday. Tate is interested to see how the receivers still on the roster do in replacing him. “I’m interested to see all those guys play. With coach Kelly’s offense, it’s a spread offense so you need more than two receivers. You need four or five or possibly six.”
One receiver Tate took note of is sophomore Theo Riddick who is making the same transition from running back to receiver that Tate made as a freshman at Notre Dame. “I was kind of the same situation – played running back now he’s getting moved to receiver so hopefully he catches on a little faster than I did, but I definitely think he’s a playmaker so I’m excited to see him with the ball in his hands.”
Tate was very complimentary of all of the Irish receivers though adding, “From head to toe, the receivers are looking good.”
We’ll all get a glimpse of just how good those wide receivers are looking around the same time Tate finds out where he’ll be making his patented highlight reel grabs next with the Blue-Gold game and the NFL Draft happening over the same weekend. Regardless of where Tate ends up, Notre Dame fans are going to be keeping an eye on him after all of the amazing plays he turned in while representing the Fighting Irish so very well both on and off the field.
As I joked with Tate when I finished up my interview though, I just hope he steers clear of the NFC East so my Eagles don’t have to face him twice a year.