Mr. Biletnikoff Says: Notre Dame WR Tate Is Truly Golden

IsmailAnalyst INovember 2, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 03: Golden Tate #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs against the Washington Huskies on his way to a 67 yard touchdown on October 3, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Right now, the best receiver in the country is Notre Dame’s Golden Tate and the race for the annual Biletnikoff award may not be very close.


The time has come for the rest of college football to take notice of the fiery wideout wreaking havoc on every single opponent his Fighting Irish line up against.


In theory, Tate should probably be receiving some Heisman talk, but with his teammate Jimmy Clausen in that discussion, it is highly unlikely Tate will seriously contend for that trophy.


But the best receiver in the country? Golden Tate has that honor on serious lock-down.


Before I get into the numbers (and they are very good), let me first bring up two reasons why Tate is having a magnificent year.


First, Tate doesn’t have NFL size and his listed height of 5-foot-11 is probably a bit generous. He’s not even 200 pounds but is still as dominating physically as anyone currently hauling down passes in the NCAA.


Second, many believed that with the injury to fellow superstar receiver Michael Floyd (early in Notre Dame’s third game), it would be difficult for Tate to continue playing at such a high level.


He has not only maintained his level of play, but has played even better despite facing constant double- and triple-coverage. It almost cannot be explained.


And it’s not so much that Tate has been piling up the statistics, but more so in how he is doing it.


Despite his size, he’s broken dozens of tackles, gained extra yards and fought his way to the end zone. Often times it takes two or three defenders to tackle Tate, but they usually end up just pushing him out of bounds as he flicks the ball defiantly to the ground and struts back to the huddle.


In open space, he is as elusive as they come in college ball and has even showed an extra gear with his top-end speed, leaving opponents in the dust as often as he plows through them.


In 2009, Tate has torched Michigan and Michigan State for 242 yards and three touchdowns while putting up the second-most receiving yards in school history against Washington.


Against USC, he caught one of the year’s best touchdown passes on an impossible deep ball while being double-covered. He followed that up later in the game by catching a slant route for a score while simultaneously dropping Trojan safety Taylor Mays (nearly twice his size) to the turf.


If that wasn’t enough, Tate also willed his team to victory against Boston College, catching two touchdowns (the last being the game-winner) while going over 100 yards receiving in a game for the fifth time this season.


Last weekend in San Antonio, Tate came down with a miraculous Hail Mary catch in the end zone despite being surrounded by three taller defenders. It’s as if Golden Tate defies all logic in all that he does each and every week.


One thing is for sure: this has clearly been a special year for Golden Tate. He is making plays like Tim Brown and Rocket Ismail, two of the most special athletes in Notre Dame history.


He is currently on pace to break several Irish single-season receiving records and even has an outside shot to own some career receiving records this season, as well. If he comes back for his senior season, Tate will own nearly every Irish receiving record.


Even better, Floyd is expected back soon and although this may decrease the number of balls thrown in Tate’s direction, it will almost certainly give him more room to do damage. No one is smiling about this more than Charlie Weis.


As it stands, Tate’s numbers break down like this:


56 receptions (16th nationally)

927 yards (2nd )

16.6 average (40th )

9 touchdowns (2nd )


There are only a handful of BCS-conference receivers with more receptions, but there isn’t anyone really close to Tate in terms of the whole package when you break down the stats.


And this doesn’t even count the 19 rushes, 155 yards and two touchdowns Tate has compiled while abusing defenders out of the Wildcat formation.


I had been thinking that Tate’s lack of size, his commitment to the Notre Dame baseball team, and the general pattern of Irish athletes getting their degrees meant that Tate would definitely be back for his senior season.


Now, I’m not so sure. He must be getting outstanding reviews by scouts who love the passion and talent he brings each game.


And why wouldn’t scouts be in love with Golden Tate? He is the best receiver in the country right now.


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