Golden Tate was able to successfully pull off pulling double-duty on the Notre Dame football and baseball teams as a freshman. But he did so with little success between the lines, so this year is different.
As a freshman on the gridiron in 2007, Tate had only six catches for 131 yards and one touchdown before hitting just .262 with six runs and four RBI on the diamond in 18 games in the spring of 2008.
Tate enjoyed a breakout football season in 2008, finishing with 64 grabs for 1,257 yards and 13 scores, he appears to be on track for a similar coming out party on the diamond. Tate has batted leadoff in 19 of Notre Dame's 21 games so far this season and is hitting .351 with 15 runs scored and seven batted in.
Tate's increase in playing time for the baseball team will mean less time spent working out for football this spring. Charlie Weis and Notre Dame baseball coach have mapped out Tate's spring for him.
"Obviously Golden is starting and leading off for the baseball team," said Weis. "I've already met with Coach Schrage so he's limited, but because I've worked out with Dave the days that he'll be in baseball and days that he'll be in football while still staying within compliance of the number of hours that he's allowed to be involved in a week."
Tate expects to get in at least five practices with the Fighting Irish football team this spring and is expected to play in the Blue-Gold Game on Saturday, April 18.
"It looks like I'm going to be coming in on Mondays and just trying to get a ton of work done because I'm only in here on those Mondays and maybe one Wednesday," said Tate.
The baseball team has games scheduled on the days of all Notre Dame's spring football practices except for the three Monday sessions and Wednesday, April 8. With two sports on top of his academic load, Tate's spring schedule is packed.
"Free time, it left the schedule after Hawai'i," said Tate. "It's really not even a part of my schedule anymore. Every now and then I get to LaFortune to get a sandwich."
But Tate does not mind.
"I've enjoyed it, playing both sports," he said. "It's tough to stay strong and you've got to work a little harder when you're in the weight room, but I've enjoyed it."
Despite his strong sophomore season, Tate is worried about missing so many football practices.
"I'm not comfortable with my spot right now. I feel like the competition at wide receiver is great so whenever I'm there I've got to work hard and hopefully no one will step up and take my spot," he said. "I'm not taking it for granted, I'm coming out working hard and trying to get better."
Tate made his first appearance with the Irish football team on Monday and surprised himself.
"I was worried that I wasn't in shape, but I'm in better shape than I thought I was," he said. "I was running around, it was fun."
In just that single session, Tate noticed a difference in the team's attitude.
"After we got four or five, six yards our offensive line and everyone was excited, everyone was running around," he said. "Last year, Coach would have to tell us, ‘Get excited, you just got a bunch of yards.' This year it's like everyone is excited and running around."
Wide receivers coach Rob Ianello has told the wideout what he wants him to work on when he is at practice.
"One of the things that Coach I has mentioned is not stutter-stepping. Getting off the line as quick as I can and getting in the position to get off the ball," said Tate. "Another thing that we want to work on is in-routes. I can assume that we'll get a lot of Cover Two this year, especially with Michael [Floyd] and I on the outside. So just getting a clean release and getting up to my depth and breaking it off fast."
Even with all of the chaos of shuttling back and forth from baseball to football, Tate is not going to put too much pressure on himself.
"I'm trying to stay within myself," he said. "Just play my game, do what I did last year, stop thinking and just play."