Big Shoes To Fill At Notre Dame; Clausen And Tate Declare For NFL Draft

Sports News - December 8th, 2009 - Written by Jimmy

notre dameNotre Dame Quarterback Jimmy Clausen, and Wide Receiver Golden Tate have both decided to forgo their senior year of eligibility and submit their names for the 2010 NFL Draft.

Both Tate and Clausen followed the advice of their families as well as that from former Head Coach Charlie Weis. Both came to Notre Dame looking to take their games to the next level; on Monday they have decided to do just that.

"After the season, in talking to my parents and obviously Coach Weis, I just feel it's the right time," Clausen said to ESPN.com in an interview. "Coach Weis told me whether he was going to be here or not be here, it was time for me to go. He thought I've improved so much since I came to Notre Dame. So, I'm taking his advice, and I'm going to head out."

After all, Weis was the reason that Clausen chose to come to Notre Dame over USC due to Weis' experience with quarterbacks in the NFL (i.e Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe).

Clausen arrived at Notre Dame three years ago as a consensus number one quarterback recruit out of California, and was Weis' most highly touted recruit during his tenure at Notre Dame. Clausen is widely perceived to be a top 3 quarterback in the 2010 NFL draft class.

Since the announcement, rumors have already began to circulate that interested parties include the St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Browns.

"The scrutiny of being the quarterback at Notre Dame and the head coach at Notre Dame is tough," Clausen said in a press conference. "And I think it'll prepare me really well for the next level."

The scrutiny experienced by him in the 2009 College Football Season should definitely prepare him for the next level. Despite having his best year statistically, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes throwing 28 touchdowns to only throwing four interceptions, the Irish finished with a disappointing 6-6 record, and are likely to refuse a bowl game.

Weis is quick to defend his ex-quarterback saying that three of those interceptions were tipped. Weis is also telling NFL scouts that the junior quarterback "did not miss a read all year."

NFL scouts also like the fact that Clausen is already 22 years old and has been gone from home for three years playing football at Notre Dame. In addition, scouts also like the fact that he has been installed in a pro-style offense since his arrival in South Bend, something that most college quarterbacks don't get much experience with.

"I don't think I could've gone to a better place to get prepared to play than under someone like Coach Weis," Clausen told reporters. "The NFL is something I've always wanted to do since I was a little kid growing up. It's just a dream come true, and I'm just having a great time right now."

WR Golden Tate said the decision was hard for him as well, and after discussing it thoroughly, he reached his decision;

"But after talking with my family and coach Weis, I am going to pursue my dream and enter next year's NFL draft," Tate said in a press conference.

Three years ago, no one would have predicted or considered Tate a possibility of leaving early for the NFL Draft.

During his freshman year, Tate saw little playing time. In high school, Tate was a running back. Upon coming to Notre Dame, Tate had learn how to run routes correctly, something that he was unaccustomed to coming out of high school. In that first year, Tate hauled in six catches for only 131-yards.

As a junior, Tate became a human highlight reel and Notre Dame's number one play maker for Clausen. Tate and Clausen worked hard together during the preseason to develop a chemistry on the field. That time spent looks to really be paying off for the duo now.

According to Scouts Inc., Tate is one of the top 2 receiving prospects going into next year's draft.

The departure of Tate and Clausen will surely leave the Irish with plenty of holes on offense to fill for the 2010 season in addition to finding a new head coach to lead the Irish.

Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly is interviewing for the job in South Bend on Tuesday.