In our retrospective look at our favorite players of the Chuck Weis era of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, we’ve seen my fellow writers praise the immortal Jimmy Clausen, compose an ode to The Shark and his rise to superstardom, and even give us a “Where Are They Now?” look at the school’s all-time career receiving touchdowns leader.
Somehow, though, no one has offered up a story on easily the greatest, and the most fun to watch, offensive player since the Holtz years (and I would also argue greatest overall since then).
I, of course, am talking about Golden S. Tate III, the 5’10”, less-than-200-pounds, trash-talking running-back-turned-wide-receiver who became a unanimous 1st Team All-American, a Biletnikoff Award winner, and who never seemed to drop a pass, nor go down to the ground until like 5 different defensive players hopped on his back. The dude was just a human highlight reel.
In his three-year Irish career, Tate put up 157 catches, 2,707 yards, and 26 touchdowns — and this needs to be clarified: he only had 6 catches for 131 yards and 1 TD in his freshman season, when he had not yet learned how to run all the routes of Charlie Weis’ offense, and instead got time running vertical/fade patterns at the end of the 3-9 2007 season.
So 151 catches, 2,576 yards, and 25 touchdowns in a 2-year span? Yeah, that’s pretty damn impressive.
After that moderately quiet freshman year, in his sophomore season in 2008 Tate absolutely exploded onto the scene. He went over 1,000 yards and capped the year by serving as the main beneficiary of Jimmy Clausen’s perfect game in the Hawaii Bowl, racking up 177 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 6 (!!!) catches.
Junior year, Irish fans now knew they had a star on their hands and were expecting big things, and Tate lived up to the hype, giving fans a number of unbelievable moments during his All-American season.
- His performance in an OT win against Washington, when he had a number of unreal catches en route to 9 receptions, 244 yards, an awesome flip, and this touchdown:
- His Hail Mary catch against Washington State on Halloween, which happened right before my friends and I had way too many jello shots and Kamchatka at our dorm party...
- The BC game, which should definitely not have been close, but that Tate won with this play that we all saw coming from a mile away:
- His punt return touchdown that kept ND in the game against Pitt — the Irish still ended up losing, but right before the TD, one of my friends put on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’, ” and I can assure you that we had never gone more crazy while watching a football game in a tiny dorm room than we did in that moment:
- His 8-catch, 117-yard, 2-touchdown game against USC, when he made this catch right in the face of hated USC safety Taylor Mays:
- And finally, his best-ever moment by far: his beautiful, inspiring, hold-my-dick leap into the Michigan State band after scoring a go-ahead touchdown on a PERFECTLY thrown ball by J.C. against the Spartans...all set to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in this stupendous YouTube.com video:
I could probably go on and on while digging up video clips of Golden Tate’s unreal highlights, but I’m going to stop for now and just say that Golden Tate was likely the most exciting, enjoyable, elite player Notre Dame has had since Sweet Lou was roaming the sidelines, and we all just need to take a moment to relish the fact that he graced us with 3 years of playing football for our favorite team.
Oh, and I almost forgot - his name is PERFECT, not just for Notre Dame, but for anyone, ever. The fact he is the 3rd person in his family to be named Golden Tate is a Goddamn blessing, and we need to acknowledge it as such.
That name is so beautiful, he doesn’t even need a nickname, although my youngest brother, as a crazy, nonsensical 10-year-old, did attempt to give him one:
The cherry on top of all of this is that Golden Tate, like a lot of other Irish players now in the NFL, has followed up his successful college career by being a bonafide star in the professional ranks (besides that whole drunkenly breaking into a donut shop thing like 7 years ago), and is continuing to just tear it up as the Lions’ best offensive weapon, however sad that may be (I pray every day that Golden, Theo Riddick, and TJ Jones are able to find a different, more successful franchise at some point in their careers).
So, to cut this off now before I write another 1,000 words about him, Golden Tate is the absolute best, and anyone who disagrees is wrong and stupid and probably a Bears fan.