Monday, December 7, 2009

Decision Time: Golden Tate, Notre Dame

By Mark Zavodnyik

Why Golden Tate made the right decision to turn pro.

1. Strike while the iron is hot:
Tate has been one of the most exciting players in college football this season. He led the Fighting Irish in receiving with 93 receptions for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns, and his average of 124.7 receiving yards per game was third best in the nation. Tate’s productivity has been recognized as he is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given out annually to the best receiver in the country. Going forward, it is hard to imagine Tate having a better year in college than the one he just completed. When Tate announced his decision to turn pro at a news conference on Monday, he mentioned how his performance this year played a role in his decision, “After having the year that I had, I'm not sure if I can even do much better, so I just feel like it was the right time,” Tate said. “Go out while you're hot, you know?”

2. Changes at Notre Dame: If Tate had stayed for his senior year at Notre Dame he would have had to get to know a new head coach as well as that coach’s offensive system. It seems impossible that he would be able to repeat, let alone match his performance from 2009 in that new system. More importantly, there will be a new quarterback at Notre Dame in 2010. The chemistry between Jimmy Clausen and Tate over the past two seasons has been a big factor in the development of both players. Tate was Clausen’s security blanket and his deep threat. Tate finished the season averaging 7.8 receptions per game, good for seventh in the nation. That average would not be equaled with a new quarterback next year.

Zavodnyik’s Take: There is plenty of evidence to show that Tate is an electric, game-changing player. The timing of his decision makes sense considering that he would be starting over with a new system, coach, and quarterback next season. The most important element for Tate’s draft status is going to be his 40-yard-dash time at the NFL Combine. He could be selected late in the first round of the draft if he proves to have top-end speed.

Photo Courtesy of College Press Box