Earlier this week, Golden Tate confirmed Notre Dame fans' worst fears when he and Jimmy Clausen both announced they would be leaving South Bend and entering the NFL Draft.
Though we were holding on to hope that Tate would return for his senior year, none of us expected him to.
About a month ago, my supervisor told me straight up, "He's gone." I asked, "Well, that is a possibility, but how do you know for sure?" He replied, "He is on national TV every week, and he makes a great catch every week."
Then the reality set in, and I knew the inevitable.
That was after the Washington State game, and then I knew I only had a few more games and a bowl game to enjoy watching him. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to enjoy after that point, and we have no bowl game. However, Tate still made the plays, and he is one that will always be remembered.
Notre Dame fans really started to see what they had in Tate at the end of his freshman year. That was the year they were 3-9.
Then as a sophomore Tate really became Clausen's primary weapon. That was when we really began to realize how special Tate could be. He and Clausen were really becoming known for their hookups on long bombs.
Meanwhile, another receiver was also emerging. That, of course, was freshman Michael Floyd. Irish fans were starting to think they had a nice tandem with Tate and Floyd.
Following an up and down year, Tate really had a breakout game at the Hawaii Bowl. In that game he had 177 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The most memorable one was the long bomb from Clausen in the second quarter where he just ran by all the Hawaii defenders.
When the season began, Notre Dame knew they had one of the deadliest receiving duos in the country with Tate and Floyd. In the first couple games of the year, it was Floyd who was making most of the big catches. That was until he broke his collarbone against Michigan State.
That was when Tate really began his streak of making one unbelievable catch after another. It started in that same game when he dove into the band.
The following week he was Mr. Everything against Purdue, when he not only caught passes but also ran reverses, as well as the Wildcat.
Who can ever forget the great catch in overtime against Washington? That was when the defender flipped him upside down and he still held on to the ball.
Next up was USC. In that game Tate had another big catch on a long bomb from Clausen. That play came when the Irish were down big and gave them momentum.
The next week the Irish were down late in the game and needed a touchdown. Guess who scored it? Of course it was Tate on another long bomb from Clausen.
The following week was against Washington State, and we all remember the catch of the year. At the end of the half, Clausen threw into triple coverage, and Tate took it away from all three of them. The amazing part was that was an incredibly difficult play, but Clausen and Tate made it look so easy.
Although the four-game skid followed, Tate still made plenty of great plays. Who can forget his big punt return in Pittsburgh or all or the big catches he had at Stanford?
Golden Tate is truly one player that will always be missed. Despite not playing on winning Notre Dame teams, he still was an unbelievable player. He quite simply was the best playmaker in South Bend since a guy named Rocket Ismail.
As he enters the NFL Draft, I know I, along with all Irish fans, will root for him no matter what team he goes to. Personally, I would like to see him go to Cleveland along with Charlie Weis. It is not that I am a Browns fan, but it would be fun to see my favorite all-time Irish receiver play with my all-time favorite Irish quarterback (sorry Jimmy).
Good luck to you, Golden Tate—you will always be remembered.
This article is also posted on http://fightingirishgameday.com/