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Football: Tate caps record-breaking season with All-American honors

Matt Gamber | Friday, December 4, 2009

It’s been a rough week for the Irish players, but at least one — junior wide receiver Golden Tate — received some good news Thursday, when he was named to the American Football Coaches Association’s All-America Team.

“It’s not one of the things you sign up for when you sign up to play for Notre Dame,” Tate told The Observer Thursday. “I came in with the mentality that I wanted to play hard and put the team in the best position to win. With myself succeeding … the two kind of go hand in hand.”

Tate’s numbers speak for themselves, as he tied or broke six Notre Dame records this season. Tate’s 93 receptions, 1,496 yards and nine 100-yard receiving games this year set school records, and his 15 receiving touchdowns tied the Irish single-season mark. He also set Notre Dame career records by eclipsing 2,707 yards and 15 100-yard receiving games.

“I’ve never really worried about [statistics], just played the game the best I could and try to keep everyone up every week,” Tate said. “Just showing up and playing every game hard, I think it helped the team out.”

Perhaps more impressive than Tate’s numbers are the fact that he posted a significant portion of them with Notre Dame’s other top receiver, sophomore Michael Floyd, sidelined by injury.

“I took it as an opportunity to put my name out there and show that I was capable of leading this team with one of the best players in the country out for a few weeks,” Tate said. “I think I did a good job with that, and the coaches did an excellent job designing plays to get me the ball.”

Tate became the first Notre Dame player to be named to the AFCA All-America Team since 2002, when cornerback Shane Walton earned the honor. Tate was the first Irish offensive player selected to the team since former Notre Dame tackle Aaron Taylor was chosen in 1993.

Tate was joined on the offensive All-America Team by the likes of Heisman candidates Colt McCoy, the Texas quarterback, and running backs Mark Ingram of Alabama and Toby Gerhart of Stanford. The other receiver named to the team was Cincinnati’s Mardy Gilyard.

“I’m still not happy about the season and the situation right now, but it’s an honor to be mentioned with some of those names and win those awards,” Tate said. “Personally, I still always think I could have done more to put the team in a better position to win, but at the same time, I think some of the things I did helped us win a couple of those games.”

Tate likely isn’t finished receiving attention for his individual accolades, as he is also a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, presented each year to college football’s top wide receiver. The other two finalists are Texas’ Jordan Shipley and Bowling Green’s Freddie Barnes.