A conversation with Golden Tate

Mike Tannenbaum said earlier this week that with the trade for Antonio Cromartie, the Jets now don't need to pick a cornerback at 29. So perhaps they might look to find a slot receiver, and if Notre Dame's Golden Tate slips, he might be too good to pass up. Here is a chat with the talented Golden Domer, who the Jets met with privately at the combine -

Q)You were also a terrific MLB prospect. What made you pick football over baseball?

Tate: I played both sports because I love both sports. I just didn't know which one I loved the most. I think after this year and the success I had, my passion was greater in football than it was baseball. So I decided to pursue my dream, which was always to play a professional sport, and the NFL is the right one for me I think.

Q)How will playing in Charlie Weis' pro offense at Notre Dame help you on the next level?

Tate: I think that's one of the reasons I accepted a scholarship to Notre Dame. I knew that the situation I was going into that Coach Weis was a professional coach. The system's got to be similar to the NFL. So I knew that I would have a head start when I decided to pursue my dream and play professional football. That was one of the things going into college that I understood. He came from the Patriots and won championships. I knew that I'm going to get better and learn the game.

I knew Jeff [Samardzija] was graduating and the opportunity (was there) to come in and make an impact early. And Coach Weis' pro-style offense. This guy is a guru. So I knew that this was a good situation. Now, I wish we won more games and accomplished more as a team.

Q)What went into your decision to leave college after your junior year?

Tate: Funny story. I spoke with Coach (Charlie) Weis before the season, before we played a down before camp. He said "Unless you have around 1,500 yards and around 16 or 17 touchdowns I would not leave early." I had 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Before I made any decisions, we sat down and spoke. The pros were better than the cons, we thought. So I made the decision to enter the draft early.

Q)For NFL fans that have not seen you play, what pro receiver are you similar to in terms of style?

Tate: Steve Smith. A lot of ya'll probably think the same thing. Similar size, similar build, very physical, not afraid to go over the middle. I model my game after him. I'm not afraid to go over the middle and catch a ball or throw a block. Also Percy Harvin. I like what Minnesota has done with him this year, moving him all around--in the backfield, in motion, the Wildcat. Hopefully a team will see that in me and draft me.

Q)What are you goals on the next level?

Tate: I'm coming to the NFL working. I'm trying to make a name for myself and be successful. One of the wristbands that I wear, I actually broke it this morning, (says) "Don't be satisfied." That's kind of my motto: Don't be satisfied. Don't be satisfied with just getting invited to the combine. Don't be satisfied with just getting drafted. Don't be satisfied with just playing. I want to be great. I want to win Super Bowls. I want to go to Pro Bowls. I want to be in the Hall of Fame.

I think my mindset is on the right path.

Q)How did you get your first name?

Tate: I don't where it came from. I don't know what they were thinking. But it worked out. I'm actually a third, so there's two other Goldens running around. It worked out. I guess you can say it fits me. A lot of people say "Golden Dome" or it was destined. I guess I just lucked out.

Q)Your dad Golden played wide receiver in the NFL. What did he tell you about his career?

Tate: The funny thing is my father and I, we don't talk football very much. I knew he went to Tennessee State and I knew he got drafted. But we're two different players. He's a taller guy. I'm a smaller guy with a big heart. So we're two different players. He's kind of a possession receiver, and I'm kind of a guy who's going to go out there and make plays. I try my best to catch it and turn a 3-yard gain into a first down or a 20-yard gain or maybe even a touchdown.

Q)Have you reached out to any former NFL players for advice?

Tate: I've spoken with a bunch of guys who've played in the league like Roy Green, Rob Moore. Those guys told me it's about your offseason. It's how you prepare yourself in the offseason. It's about being fast and having endurance. I think if my work ethic goes as planned, I'm going to enter the season prepared and that will limit my injuries. I want to beat the average life span and do great things there, but I think it starts with my offseason. So I'm going to hit that hard.

Q)What are your strengths as a player?

Tate: I'd say my biggest strength is being able to break tackles. If you go back and watch film, it's kind of tough for guys to tackle me. My speed has always been one of my strengths. Also my hands. I think I have a decent grip on the ball. Once it touches my hands it's not going anywhere.

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