ND’s Tate will talk with Weis before deciding his future

Published 2:08 am Friday, November 27, 2009

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The much-anticipated talk between coach Charlie Weis and athletic director Jack Swarbrick won’t be the only conversation next week that will have a big impact on Notre Dame’s future.

Weis also plans to sit down with Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate to talk with them about whether they should stay in school or enter the NFL draft. There probably won’t be much Weis can tell Clausen, who is already projected to be a first-round draft pick, that he doesn’t already know.

Tate is a different story. He started the season as Notre Dame’s No. 2 receiver, behind Michael Floyd, but has been one of the brightest spots in what has become a disappointing season for the Irish (6-5), who have lost three straight. After setting school records for receptions and receiving yards this season, he is one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award.

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Still, there are questions about how the 5-foot-11 Tate will do in the NFL because of his height and whether his relative inexperience as a receiver will hurt him in the draft. Tate was a high school running back and struggled to learn how to run pass routes as a freshman.

He can still get a lot better, Weis said.

“Maybe not necessarily numbers-wise, but he can get better from where he is now,” Weis said.

Tate’s speed, though, should make up for any other shortcomings, saying NFL scouts will be impressed once they watch how Tate plays, Weis said.

“Because anyone who is watching the tape, they’re not worrying about the height. I think that more importantly, they want to let him go to the combine and see what number he runs,” he said. “Because when all of a sudden it’s a 4.4 flat or something along those lines, that height will be thrown right out the window.”

Weis called Tate a “clone” of Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith, who is 5-9.

“A little trash-talker just like Golden. But their personalities are alike. They’re fiery guys. They make big plays. They’re tough. They don’t back down from anyone,” he said. “I would imagine, I don’t know exactly Steve’s size, but I would imagine it’s probably pretty close, and he’s done pretty well, last time I checked.”

Tate wasn’t available to talk to the media this week after Weis announced Tuesday that no players or assistant coaches would be allowed to talk to reporters. Tate said last week he still hadn’t thought about what he will do next year.

He’s also talked this season about how plenty of others have been willing to give him advice. He said people he doesn’t know walk up to him and tell him what he should do.

“It’s weird,” he said “They’re like ’You should leave.’ ’You shouldn’t leave.’ I just say, ’OK, thanks,’ and keep on rolling. When the time comes, the important people in my life will help me make that decision, not someone walking down the street.”

Tate said he will put a lot of faith in what Weis has to say.

“He’s always been honest with me. That’s one thing I like about him. He hasn’t told me what’s best for the program or what’s best for Notre Dame he tells me what’s best for me and what’s going to help my situation out,” Tate said. “I almost feel like he talks to me like I’m Charlie Jr. I really do appreciate it.”