Friday, April 23, 2010
Tate finds himself playing for former Trojan
By Wes Morgan
It may be a violation of some unwritten code at the University of Notre Dame, but dynamic wide receiver Golden Tate is ready to fraternize with a man who represented the enemy for all of Irish Nation.
Tate hauled in 93 passes for 1,496 yards last season as a junior, winning the Biletnikoff Award.
With the 60th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks plucked Tate from the board in the second round Friday night with a lot of encouragement from first-year coach Pete Carroll.
Though Carroll's USC Trojans trod heavily over the Irish in recent years, Tate had no trepidation about heading to the Pacific Northwest.
"I can promise you they won't regret it," Tate said Friday night. "It's a blessing and I think it's a great situation and I can't wait. This is going to be the start of some great things, I think. I'm sure the first day I get there coach Carroll and I will mess around with each other and joke around."
Tate's well-documented numbers while in South Bend were serious enough to keep him within the projected draft window of late first round to late second round.
Not since Derrick Mayes was selected 56th overall by the Green Bay Packers in 1996 has an Irish receiver been drafted so high. Recruited out of Hendersonville, Tenn., as a running back, Tate (5-9, 195) left Notre Dame as the school's all-time leader in receiving yards (2,707), second in touchdown receptions (26) and tied for third with 157 receptions.
Tate hauled in 93 passes for 1,496 yards last season as a junior, winning the Biletnikoff Award, hardware presented to the nation's top WR. He's the first to do so at Notre Dame. Tate also boasts a school record with 15 games over 100 yards receiving.
The Seahawks hope to cash in on his elusiveness on special teams after he rattled off 1,196 career kick/punt return yards.
"I can promise you that they won't regret it. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it the best I can and help put the Seattle Seahawks in a position to win. If they want me to be a kick returner, whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it the best I can. I'm all in."
The Seahawks took Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung with the sixth pick and safety Earl Thomas (Texas) with the 14th pick in the first round. Tate was Seattle's first selection in the second round and he has a chance to make an immediate impact for an organization looking for a game-breaker opposite T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
"This is a guy who gave us all kinds of problems," Carroll told ESPN's Chris Berman shortly after the selection. His versatility, his ability to return (kicks), his run after the catch, his toughness, his competitiveness ... he's really a guy who can dominate the field."
Carroll will stress running the ball in his West Coast offense and Tate is capable of producing out of the backfield or under center in the Wildcat formation.
"I'm hoping that the coaches will see that," Tate said of his willingness to line up from multiple positions and his perceived ability to see the field right away. "The film says it all. Coach Carroll saw it with his own two eyes that I can do a lot of things. I will make plays. I'm just going to come out from day one and produce and be the hardest-working guy on the team."
Tate on Clausen slipping late Former Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen provided perhaps the most drama of this year's draft, slipping to the 48th overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the second round. Tate remained in contact with Clausen throughout the process and said the QB was patient and unconcerned.
"We sat and texted each other and he was encouraging to me and I was encouraging to him," Tate said. "We're not the general managers, we're not the owners, we don't know what they're taking into consideration. I got his back and he's got my back. But when we play (Carolina) he's going down."