Walking into the door as a scrawny freshman out of Hendersonville, Tenn, Golden Tate knew one route.
Finishing with a 3-9 record that year, Tate gave Irish fans a glimpse of his potential, mostly athletically, and a reason to put on a smile here and there in 2007. But labeled as purely an "Athlete" on most recruiting services, he had plenty to work on in order to become a complete wide receiver.
Fast forward to the current season, where Tate sits among the elite in almost every category that a receiver qualifies for.
He leads the nation in total touchdowns for receivers with 14, which includes 11 through the air. To go along with that, he is fourth in the nation in receiving yards per game coming off of 72 catches and 1,172 yards. In seven of his 10 games this year, Golden has passed the 100-yard receiving mark.
Compared to past Irish greats, he needs only five catches and 78 yards to past current Cubs pitcher, Jeff Samardzija's single-season records. Not to mention, with 211 more receiving yards, Tate will become the leading receiver in Notre Dame history.
And maybe the most impressive thing on Tate's resume—he's only a junior.
Taking a look at those numbers, eyes will open. In fact, if it weren't for the major disappointment of a season the Fighting Irish have produced this year, Tate might have been a darkhorse for the Heisman trophy.
But even more impressive is the fact that he attained those numbers without Notre Dame's other stud receiver, Michael Floyd, for much of the season. Many thought that with Floyd down, Tate's numbers would begin to come back down to earth.
Taking the critics' words as a challenge, his performance without Floyd sky-rocketed Tate's name up many draft boards and added the title of "best wide receiver" to go along with his "athlete" title.
There is no doubt that Tate is the most electrifying player in college football today. On any given Saturday, it isn't rare to see him leaping into the opponent's band or even flipping in mid-air after being missed by defenders.
Not only is he electrifying for fans, but he may as well be Notre Dame's most valuable player. It's scary to think how abysmal Notre Dame's season truly would be if it weren't for their No. 23.
Jimmy Clausen may be the most talked about player on the Irish offense, but Tate is their true playmaker and game-saver, as evidenced in many fourth quarters this season. Not only that, but he is one of the few Irish players that have shown consistent love for the game and will never give up, no matter what the scoreboard reads.
The ironic thing is, football may not even be his best sport. You can find Golden Tate guarding center field in South Bend on a breezy, Spring afternoon.
Now read why Carl Vandervoot thinks Jordan Shipley has the edge.