Big Shoes to Fill: Replacing Clausen and Tate at Notre Dame

Pierce O'LearyContributor ISeptember 2, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 13:  Golden Tate #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates with Jimmy Clausen #7 after a 35-17 victory over the Michigan Wolverines on September 13, 2008 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Brian Kelly era will officially start at Notre Dame in two days when the Boilermakers travel to South Bend. Kelly has fans excited about ND football again after the Irish have fallen on rough times over the last few years. Kelly’s biggest challenge this season other than installing his new system is to replace to of the best players at their positions in the history of Notre Dame football, Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate. Clausen was the #1 recruit in the country coming out of high school in California and was committed to bringing Notre Dame a National Championship. Although that never materialized Clausen is still one of the best quarterbacks in Notre Dame’s history, Clausen completed 62.6% of his passes for 8148 yards 60 touchdowns and 27 interceptions during his Notre Dame career. Now that Clausen is gone the new man in charge is redshirt sophomore Dayne Crist. Crist threw for 130 yards 1 TD and 1 INT while appearing in 4 games for the Irish last season. Crist ran a similar offence in high school that he will run under Coach Kelly this year, which should work in his favor. Crist like Clausen was a very highly touted recruit out of California and hopefully he to can go down as a great QB at Notre Dame.

The other key playmaker Notre Dame lost on offence to the NFL is Golden Tate. Last seasons Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top receiver Tate crushed opposing defenses all of last season with his ability to find open space and be next to impossible to tackle. It helped Tate that defense’s also needed to worry about Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph who will both be returning this season. Tate was recruited out of Tennessee as a RB before switching to receiver, a path similar to the man that might replace him New Jersey’s Theo Riddick. Riddick is among many candidates for Tate’s old job alongside Michael Floyd. Other players vying for the spot are Duval Kumara, TJ Jones, John Goodman, and Deion Walker.

Tate and Clausen will go down as two of the greatest ever to play at ND, but now it’s time for the next era of Notre Dame Football stars to be born, starting on Saturday September 4th against in state rival Purdue.