Posted by BrianBoru at 4/15/2009 2:35 AM EDT
For a team brimming with question marks it is nice to have at least one conclusive answer: Golden Tate.
With much of the offensive focus on quarterback Jimmy Clausen, look for the two-sport star to build on his breakout 2008 campaign in which he led the Irish in receiving, and push for All America notice in 2009.
At the moment, Tate is playing left field for the Fighting Irish Baseball team while utilizing his blazing speed as the leadoff hitter. Though do not be fooled, Tate's future is not on the baseball diamond but rather the football field. Unlike former Notre Dame star receiver Jeff Samardzija, Tate will not be offered guaranteed millions to play baseball - he does not register 95 mph on the radar gun.
A legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball, Tate is the nearest facsimile of Raghib Ismail to play for Notre Dame since The Rocket departed for CFL glory 18 years ago. The Rocket, of course, also had a successful NFL run with the Panthers and Cowboys.
This is not to say that Tate is the next Rocket - there will never be another Raghib Ismail. However, like Ismail, Tate certainly evokes parallel moments of awe and excitement as he totes the ball, bolting around and beyond flailing defenders.
Get excited, Fighting Irish fans - this season should be quite interesting.
Additional Notes...there are are rumors about that, Nick Montana, son of former Notre Dame and 49ers legend Joe Montana, may commit to play football for Notre Dame this Saturday during the Blue & Gold Spring Practice scrimmage.
I'll have an update as soon as I hear word. If Montana does not commit to the Irish on Saturday, the Ohio State Buckeyes could be in serious contention.
Junior forward Luke Harangody will decide whether to enter the NBA Draft by the end of the week. I'm ambivalent about this news. In a sense I can understand if Harangody opts to forgo his final year at Notre Dame; he had a great season despite the team's washout and he will see four seniors depart from the team. There is no guarantee the Irish will be any good next season.
On the other hand, he's not projected as a first round pick; in fact, he may not get drafted at all. Instead, he could return next season to try to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament, improve on his draft status - which may be tough since he's finished growing - and receive his degree. Whichever decision he chooses, Luke Harangody has been a unique gift for Notre Dame Basketball.
Here's hoping the Irish can land a few more players with his toughness.