Learning Process for Kamara, Tate

Duval Kamara and Golden Tate had no problems dominating the competition at the high school level. Kumara scored 50 touchdowns in his prep career while Tate tallied 30 total touchdowns last season in a variety of ways. But like almost all freshmen experience, there's a steep learning curve the first few weeks of fall camp. It was no different for these two freshmen wide receivers.

"For me, it was learning the plays," Tate said about the toughest adjustment. "When camp started, I had no idea about the plays. It's tough because you have to convert and read the defenses and run your routes. Everyone is so much stronger than you. It was tough."

"Everything is so precise," Kumara said about the college game. "If it's 14 yards, it has to be 14 yards. It can't be deeper than 14 yards. Everything has to be perfect. You have to know what you're doing at all times. Sometimes you could get away with it in high school but in college there's equal talent. You have to make everything perfect."

Kamara comes to Notre Dame after a senior season full of accolades in Hoboken, NJ. The wideout was a member of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and was named to the Parade All-American team. Kamara earned first-team state honors by the Associated Press after catching 33 balls for 560 yards and nine touchdowns.

The New Jersey native played in the Wing T offense in high school. Kamara said a lot of his routes consisted of either posts or stops. Now, the freshman must learn the bells and whistles of head coach Charlie Weis's system, which is a bit more complicated than what was run in high school. Fortunately for Kamara, learning the playbook wasn't too tough of a challenge.

"I thought it would be hard," Kamara said. "It actually was easy for me."

Kamara, who said he is a tad under 6'4" and 222 pounds, has Notre Dame fans excited about his size. The big receiver has flourished in Weis's offense the past two seasons. Jeff Samardzija set records in the system. But it was a wideout two years ago that Kamara wants to pattern his game off of. Maurice Stovall finished his career with the Irish in style after catching 69 balls for 1,149 yards and 11 touchdowns. In addition to the high receiving numbers, Stovall was a devastating down the field blocker in the running game.

"Mo Stovall is a big receiver, just like I am," Kamara said, who has watched tape of the former Notre Dame star to learn pointers at the wide receiver position. "I try to emulate his style.

"My strengths are my size and my hands. I can move around for a big guy."

Tate's scenario is a bit different than Kamara. The Hendersonville, TN native played a lot of different positions in high school. Tate ran for 1,413 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior at Pope John Paul II. The all-around star also caught 28 passes for 510 yards and six scores. Tate didn't just limit himself to offense. The two-way athlete returned a kickoff for a touchdown, was the team's leading punter and intercepted three passes on defense. Tate was named on the second-team USA Today Prep All-American team on defense as an athlete for his accomplishments on this side of the ball.

After arriving at Notre Dame, Tate moved to wide receiver full-time. The adjustment to this position at the college level has had it's bumps.

"When I first came here, I was tripping over my feet in the drills," Tate said with a smile. "Now, I don't trip as much. At first, when I was running my routes, I was just running my routes. I wasn't too worried about how many yards it had to be. I found out quickly that it matters and you have to read the defenses. Now, I'm getting better but I still have a lot of work to do."

Tate is one of the faster guys on the Notre Dame roster. Weis referenced his name, along with running back Armando Allen and tight end Mike Ragone, as freshmen who are fast at their positions. Tate's versatility is shown not only by all the positions he played last year in high school but in other sports as well. The freshman was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 42nd round of this past MLB Draft.

Tate plans on playing baseball at Notre Dame under head coach Dave Schrage. The two have had conversations about the possibility and Weis told Tate if he can contribute to the baseball team, the freshman can have full access. Currently, the speedy two-sport star is trying to use his athleticism to make a dent in the football depth chart.

"Right now, it doesn't seem like my ability has anything to do with it," Tate said. "It seems like it's all about fundamentals and thinking. If I can get that down, I think I can be as good as the other receivers."

Tate is the opposite of Kamara. While the New Jersey native is a tall, physical presence, Tate stands at 5-11, 188 pounds and relies more on his speed and athletic ability to make plays. There's another smaller target at wide receiver in David Grimes, who is the No. 1 option going into the season. Grimes is just 5-10 but draws praise for his hands and consistency. Tate, because of the size similarities, has been learning from Grimes in fall camp.

"I try to look up to him," Tate said. "He's been a great role model and he's shown me how to run the routes. Anytime I want to work after practice, he's there. If I have questions about the plays, he'll answer them for me. I've been talking to him a lot."

Weis has said on a few occasions that freshmen will play this year and it won't be midway through the season. The No. 18 of Kamara and No. 23 of Tate could be seen as soon as the opener on September 1st against Georgia Tech. The learning isn't over for either player but together they'll try to "get on the bus" and see action on the field.

"Golden is a great guy," Kamara said. "We try to hang out a little bit. We're just leaning together. We try to help out each other all the time and stay on top of our learning."

"We sit in our rooms and talk about plays and how to make them easier and work," Tate said of Kamara. "He's been a great help for me with the fundamental things."

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