The Notre Dame fighting Irish have big shoes and hands to fill with the departure of their star wide receiver Golden Tate.
The budding star was selected as the 60th pick of the 2009 NFL by the Seattle Seahawks, forgoing his final year of eligibility. The current Bilitnekof award winner finished his outstanding 2009 campaign with 93 receptions and 1496-yards receiving, both Notre Dame single-season records, along with 15 Touchdown receptions.
Tate ranks among the top all-time receivers at Notre Dame in touchdowns, kickoff returns, and kickoff return yardage.
It will not be easy to replace his offensive production but Notre Dame has players that will produce for Brian Kelly’s spread offense this upcoming season.
Michael Floyd (6’3’’, 230 lbs.) is a wide receiving stud who is on record to break Tate’s records and ready to step up as the alpha dog. Sidelined with a collarbone injury for most of the 2009 season, the junior still managed to play seven games and put up impressive numbers: 44 receptions, 795 yards receiving, and nine touchdowns. The expectations will be greater for the Fighting Irish top receiver option in the “Spread Kelly” offense.
More can be expected from the Tight End Position as well. Junior Kyle Rudolph (6’6”, 260 lbs), considered to be the best at the position in the country, has served as steady presence alongside Donovan and Floyd and is ready to break out. The junior is very dangerous in the red zone and is expected to take pressure off the receivers.
Wide receiver Duval Kamara (6’5”, 219 lbs.) could be the X-factor this season for the Irish. The senior was once a highly touted player who has never quite lived up to his potential. No longer in the shadow of Tate, Kamara will have a chance to take advantage of his finesse and height as well as the tight coverage on Floyd and Rudolph to come up big for the Irish.
Other receivers sure to have an impact on the Fighting Irish offense this year include stand out sophomores Theo Riddick (5’10”, 195 lbs.) and Shaquelle Evans (6’1”, 203 lbs.) , as well as promising freshman Tai-ler Jones (6’0”, 183 pounds).