Clausen, Tate Heading to NFL

Notre Dame junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen announced he would be leaving Notre Dame early for the NFL along with fellow junior teammate Golden Tate. (Photo - IconSMI)

Notre Dame juniors Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate announced that they will both forgo their senior seasons at Notre Dame and enter the NFL Draft in April on Monday confirming what many have suspected for weeks. With their former head coach at their side, the dynamic passing duo announced their intentions together on the same day it appears the Irish are zeroing in on their next head coach.

“Growing up as a kid, one of my life long dreams has been to play professional football in the NFL and with that being said, with the support of my family, coaches, I’ll be forgoing my senior year and entering the 2010 NFL draft,” Clausen said in his opening statement Monday.

Tate’s reasoning echoed Clausen’s. “This was a very tough decision for me. I have made so many great friends at Notre Dame, and the coaching I have received in football and baseball has been the best. But after talking with my family and Coach Weis, I’m going to pursue my dream and enter next year’s NFL draft.”

Neither decision was much of a surprise for Notre Dame fans. Both juniors skyrocketed up draft boards almost as fast as Notre Dame plummeted in the polls this season and neither would have much to gain from coming back for their senior seasons in terms of improving where they will be selected in draft.

Clausen improved dramatically as a junior in almost every facet of his game despite playing most of the season with a lingering turf toe injury that caused him to miss most of the Purdue game. Clausen ended up throwing 28 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions in 2009. Two of the interceptions came off of tipped balls that should have been caught making those stats even more impressive.

NFL draft experts widely considering Clausen one of the best quarterbacks in the draft and should be a lock to be one of the top 3 quarterbacks selected along with Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Washington’s Jake Locker in a draft that will have several teams looking for a franchise quarterback in the first round.

Draft gurus aren’t quite as in agreement on Tate and at this time it looks like he could be drafted in either the first or second round.

Both players were advised by former head coach Charlie Weis that they were ready for the NFL. All season long Clausen maintained that he wouldn’t think about the NFL until the season was over and he insisted that was the case again on Monday. “That first conversation he just told me that I’m ready to go. Whether he was going to be here or not, it was my time to go,” Clausen said. “He think that’s I’m ready for the NFL. I’m just really excited right now.”

Tate on the other hand said he talked about the possibility of leaving early for the NFL before the season. “Coming into my junior season Coach Weis and I actually had a conversation. He said I wouldn’t leave after junior year unless I had 17 touchdowns and about 1500 yards. He hit the nail right on the head. I think it’s the right moment for us.”

Tate ended up with 18 touchdowns (15 receiving, 2 rushing, 1 return) and 1,496 yards on 93 receptions. His receptions and yardage were both Notre Dame records.

For Clausen, it wasn’t hard to predict that this day was coming even three years ago when he enrolled at Notre Dame in the midterm. With getting a head start on his college career, Clausen was able to get three years of starting experience and is very close to finishing up his degree – something that he says is important for him to complete.

As a former #1 overall recruit, envisioning this as a possibility when he enrolled at Notre Dame in almost three years ago wasn’t too farfetched.

That wasn’t the case with Tate at all. Tate came to Notre Dame as a converted high school running back and caught just six passes as a freshman. “My freshman year, you can ask some of these guys up here, you could tell me a play and I still wouldn’t know how to run it,” Tate said. “I think I’ve grown a lot. I’ve made big steps. But, no, I never would have thought I’d be sitting here after my junior season declaring to go to the draft,” he would add.
The strides Tate made as a receiver were remarkable. After catching those six passes a freshman, he improved to 58 catches for 1,080 yards with 10 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2008 before exploding in 2009 with a record breaking year.

Some felt that Tate’s promising baseball career could play a role in his decision and could entice him to return for a senior season, but for now Tate will focus on football. He did leave the door open for a return to the diamond in the future though. “Who knows, maybe in five or six years I’ll enter some softball league.”

Notre Dame fans miss Tate for comments like that are going to make almost as much as his jaw dropping plays on the field.

With Clausen gone, the Irish will turn to former five star recruit Dayne Crist who will almost certainly miss most of, if not all of the spring, while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the Washington State game. Crist will have three years of eligibility left at the start of the 2010 season. Incoming recruit Tommy Rees will enroll in the midterm like Clausen did in 2007 and will get a head start in learning whatever offensive system gets installed with the new coaching regime, but Crist is still the odds on favorite to start next season as the starter baring any setbacks in his rehabilitation.

At receiver, the Irish will still be well stocked with talent. Super star receiver Micahel Floyd (junior), Duval Kamara (senior), John Goodman (junior), Deion Walker (junior), Shaquelle Evans (sophomore), and Roby Toma (sophomore) will all be back in South Bend next season with incoming freshmen Bennett Jackson, Daniel Smith, and Tai-ler Jones joining them.

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  1. I personally think it’s good for Golden Tate to go into the draft. For Jimmy Clausen i would’ve stayed one more year being with such a hard draft in the quarterback position this year with Tebow, McCoy, and Bradford. But i do think both of them will be taken mid to low first round picks. I can see why both of them would go in the same year Golden being Jimmys’ primary target and because they were both healthy and didn’t suffer a major injury this year and they problobaly don’t want to risk that next year and have their draft stock go down.

    All in All i think it was a pretty good move on their part.

  2. That’s PRECISELY what I was saying, Joe.

    I don’t have any sort of bias against Clausen…I’m a Niner fan that wants to see them use one of their 2 1st rounders on him in April.

  3. I think we can all agree (even Clausen would agree) that the team’s performance 2007-2009 was not Clausen likely envisioned when he came to ND. I think we can also agree that Clausen is an extremely talented player who did the best he could given when he had to work with, and that includes the head coach. I really thihk that’s the only point that Drew was trying to make here. I know everyone is stressed out with the whole Kelly thing, but let’s try to calm down a bit!!

  4. I need to calm down, Bill? I’m not the one telling someone to go play in traffic because they share a different opinion than my own.

    I come across like an angsty 17 year old? Again, re-read the comments…I’m not the one doing that, either. I haven’t talked shit about you or anyone else who disagreed with me…I just did exactly what these comments and forums are meant for…voicing one’s opinion.

    To me the angsty teenagers are the ones that aren’t mature enough to handle that. I.e. you.

  5. Anyone who has been a ND fan for any time knows it’s not about one player or one coach. We win or lose as a TEAM. The defense had problems, the Kicking game and specials teams under preformed, and the the offense as a whole failed to play up to their abilities.
    But we succeed or lose as a TEAM.
    Ever notice that ND is one of the few big time football programs that doesn’t put the player’s names on their jersey’s?
    That’s because it’s not about individuals, it’s about TEAM. No single player is bigger than the team. JC would have given up all the records that he set here for a National Title. I think everyone here knows that.
    At ND he doesn’t get all the credit when things go well, and he doesn’t get all the blame when they don’t.

  6. It really shows the maturity level of most of you that you have to resort to personal attacks at me for having an opinion. Go ahead, I can take it…just quit acting all high and mighty and holier than thou while doing it, because all you’re doing is making yourself look like little kids in an AOL chat room.

    I don’t care when he said it…if you proclaim to win a NC and a Heisman, and you end up with a 43% career winning percentage – you can’t call that anything else but miserably failing to meet expectations, regardless of what stats you put up.

    1. It really shows your maturity level that you have to resort to personal attacks of a Student Athlete for making a statement in high school. Go ahead, he can take it… just quit acting all high and might and holier than though while doing it, because all you’re doing is making yourself look like a bitch.

      I don’t care how thoughtful/accurate you were being when you said it, if you call a kid a miserable failure for being one of the premier players at his position and consistently putting his team in a position to win – you can’t call that anything else but personally attacking a student athlete for statements he made before he set foot in high school as a senior, nevermind in ND, nevermind his surgery, regardless of what stats you put up.

      1. Where the hell did I personally attack Clausen? Do YOU think that he considers his goals at ND met? If so, that’s pathetic.

        He failed to meet his goals. He failed to even come close to them…thus, he failed.

        That’s all I’ve been saying.

        Grow up.

      2. I will buy that the TEAM failed to meet the goals Clausen proclaimed, but Clausen himself did everything to try make this a winning team. Again, I will not, and neither should you, fault Clausen for the performance of the defensive unit. If we had a difference maker on defense like Clausen is to the offense then maybe YOU would not be calling him a miserable failure.

        If Clausen had anything to do with the defensive struggles then maybe he didn’t play up to par, but since the defense sucking had everything to do with Charlie Weis not caring about defense, you can not blame Jimmy Clausen for the failure of the TEAM. For that, you can only blame Charle Weis.

      3. Calling someone a miserable failure is pretty personal, and I’d go ahead and file it under the category of ‘Attack’.

        Which goals are we talking about? All of them? No.

        Getting a First rate Education: Well on his way to completing that one.

        Preparing himself for the NFL: Check.

        Becoming a Leader: Check.

        Satisfying everyone: woops, I guess he’s going to have to admit he can’t please everyone.

        You’re ASSuming you have some sort of incite into what his goals are. You don’t. Don’t pretend you do. Don’t pretend that his goals his Junior Year even remotely reflect his goals walking in the door on Day 1. Don’t pretend that those goals represent what he thought he could do this year.

        All you’ve been saying is utter Bull$#!+ while taking shots at a kid in College for something he said in high school.

        You need to figure out how to admit when you’re wrong.

        Here’s a clue: You’re wrong. You made a big mistake attacking a student athlete. You need to calm down, step back and re-read what you said. If you still think you’re in the right, Congratulations You’re a BC fan.

        And quit trying to play this high and mighty game. You’re bad at it. You come off like an angsty 17 year old trying to prove himself by telling others what you really should do yourself.

  7. Regardless of Jimmy’s pronostications, he and golden will be exciting to watch in the NFL. I wish them every possible success in the future.

  8. Tate should have been in the heisman running. I think ND is going to regret firing Weis, he was able to get elite talent(on the offensive side of the ball). I think had he been given more time and other potential recruits saw that he was willing to support players leaving early they would’ve chosen ND (offense and defense). ALL the elite recruits have aspirations of going to the NFL.

    1. After ND’s 3-9 season CW was on a short leash, and back to back seasons of 6-6 were too much to take for the alumni who loved to roll out the stat that the last three years were the worst in the history of ND football. Another year for CW would have been very difficult for him because of the crazy expectations and constant personal attacks. I think the change had to be made: 1. the loses to lesser programs; 2. the hatred against CW was just too much to overcome.

  9. Drew was probably referring to JC’s lofty proclamations when he first signed on at ND, which failed to materialize, obviously. Other than that, JC was the best QB I’ve seen at ND in the past 25 years, regardless of the team’s performance.

    1. Thank you. You’re the only one with common sense that replied to me.

      I’m fully aware that Clausen was great – I don’t believe ever saying that he wasn’t.

      But the fact is, when you enroll at ND in a stretch hummer and talk about winning Heismans and championships – and you leave the school with a career record of 16-21…how is that not a failure?

      1. You keep digging deeper, why? I am sure his expectations were not met. YOURS, mine, I don’t care about. JC showed why CW recruited him: a supreme, confident talent.

      2. Just to reiterate, because You’re an asshat, and I’m fairly certain you need it repeated. He made those comments his Junior year in High School.

        This is before he had elbow problems and needed surgery.

        Once again, please go hold yourself to a standard set in your junior year of high school.

        Either way, if you do or don’t meet expectations set your Junior year of High school you’ve failed. That doesn’t make you a ‘miserable failure’. Taking shots at a 22 year old kid who lays it on the line for his team because of a comment he made 6 (that’s six) years ago makes you a miserable failure.

        Resume playing in oncoming traffic please.

    2. JC definitely played about as well, if not better, as you could expect–statistically speaking. It’s too bad he didn’t win the awards he could have and that he didn’t have a better Win-Loss Ratio… but there’s only so much one guy can do in that regard. Best of luck to Jimmy.

      I wish he (and Tate) had come back one more year like Quinn did, but it’s clear that Jimmy really likes the school a lot and the decision was hard for him–it’s not like he just came to use ND to get to the NFL, but he seems to have enjoyed his time here. I hope they both stay in touch with the University and wish them the best in the NFL.

  10. I totally disagree with Drew. JC and GT were both victimized by lousy defenses (which is not to say, if we’re being totally candid that the ND offense also didn’t leave a l,ot of plays and points on the field.) But what is about this board that just seems to make some folks go crazy with the name-calling (I know I’ve been dragged into that one on a few occasions) and some other people even wish death on those they disagree with? Irony and sarcasm are one thing, but the level of vitriol among some posters is really a shame. Drew, I disagree with you but I don’t wish you any harm this CHRISTMAS season!

      1. No, Bill, I wouldn’t say that. I just think we shouldn’t demonize people just because we disagree with them. That’s all. Besides personal insults only make our arguments weaker not stronger. Your arguments are good enough to not have to resort to wishing people ill or name calling. But that’s just me.

  11. Good luck boys! I wish your defense could have kept you in more games, but if I had millions waiting for me after seeing what happened to Sam Bradford I would be gone too.

  12. Not a shock in the slightest. Tate surpasses expectations as a Domer – Clausen failed to even come close to meet them. He never had a chance at meeting them, true…but he failed miserably.

    1. Well, it looks like we found the guy that sucker-punched Clausen.

      You’re stupid. There, I said it, there’s clearer way to explain those comments. What expectations exactly did you have for him? 28:4 TD:INT ratio, 161 QB rating (#2 D-IA), 3722 Yards. Oh and he gave us a chance in EVERY game we played in. No way; JC is not a failure.

      But I will call you a failure. A failure as a fan, absolutely. Complete miserable failure. How dare you call a kid a failure who’s put his team in a position to succeed as well as he has. If anything we’ve failed him as fans. It’s ludicrous. Go be a BC fan with Goober. We don’t need your kind here.

      1. Dude gets to ND and proclaims the National Championship…not just once, but 4 times.

        …He failed to really even deliver a winning season. I know it’s not all on him, but still…if that’s not failing to meet expectations, nothing is.

      2. I am sure his expectations were not met. Yours, mine, I don’t care about. JC showed why CW recruited him: a supreme talent.

      3. 2. Quick points.

        1. ‘Dude’ proclaims that his Junior Year of high school when he declared for ND.

        2. ‘Dude’ F#$&ing proclaims that his F#@%ing JUNIOR year of F$@&ing HIGH SCHOOL.

        So.. I’m just going to assume you hold yourself to the same standard where if you don’t meet ever statement you make your JUNIOR year of HIGH SCHOOL you’re a miserable failure.

        Don’t even $@&!ing think about debating me on this one asshat. You’re an idiot. Mind you, when he made those comments ND was coming off a 9-3 season heading towards a 10-3 season. Forgive him if he didn’t see the lack of depth coming. Forgive a 17 year old kid for not being wise to ALL the ways of the world.

        And before you even try to say he was a senior, He made those comments in April of 2006. His Junior Year.


    2. CW stated that JC didn’t miss a single read all year.
      Can’t be that bad if you are projected as the top QB in next April’s NFL draft.
      As a 191 lb freshmen, he stood in the pocket(if you could call it that)and took a beating like no one I ever saw and never blamed anyone or pointed fingers.
      Last summer he invited his receivers and tight ends to his home in California to work on their passing game.
      And this season he played the second half of the year
      with a turf toe so bad that he could barley walk.
      If even half the players on the team were as resiliant and tough as him, we would be going to a bowl game.
      He wore the uniform with class and pride, and never did anything to embaress himself, his team mates or his university.
      Remember, he a college kid, not a 7 yr pro.

    3. STFU, and step away from the keyboard. Clausen is leaving as the second-most prolific passer in ND history. He’s second all-time behind Brady Quinn (who played for ND for one more year) in almost every statistical category and is leaving ND with the highest completion percentage in school history.

    4. Drew,

      Do us all a HUGE favor and go play in on-coming traffic. I’m not quite sure where you are coming from with your Jimmy bashing. You do realize without him, our season is an even bigger embarassment. I’m sorry Jimmy can’t play defense as well because our defense is what cost us a shot at an potentially undefeated season. Every game we lost, we were never out of and it certainly had EVERYTHING to do with Jimmy Clausen under center. He kept plays alive, found the open receiever, threw balls away at the right time, and played tough all season. It bothers me that I have to waste a post to restate the obvious…Jimmy Clausen was a great QB (if not the best in the country) this year and for a “so-called” Notre Dame fan to say otherwise is ridiculous.

      Had ND had a Top-25 Defense, both Clausen and Tate would ebe in New York to see which one of them will would win the Heisman. A top-25 Defense would’ve given the Irish at least 10 wins and the Heisman is only for players on teams with 10+ wins (which I don’t really have a problem with). And had ND managed 10+ wins..YES, Jimmy and Golden would be in New York. So, again, Drew S…go play in traffic, but do watch out for trucks.

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