Tate likely going pro as well

Just got word from a few people that Golden Tate will be joining Jimmy Clausen at today’s press conference to discuss their collegiate futures at Notre Dame. According to the Chicago Tribune’s Brian Hamilton and ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Joe Schad, Golden is likely joining Jimmy in declaring for the NFL Draft.

This is a lot to digest on a Monday, but I also suspect the reports are true and Tate’s going to head for the NFL as well, seeing as his draft stock can’t get much better. After discussing this with some other college football writers, this is probably a smart jump for Tate, as he’ll likely face some stiff competition in next year’s draft at wideout.

Where Tate goes in the draft has been widely debated, but it all likely hinges on the 40-yard dash time he runs at the combine. As Tate will mention, he and his mother sat down with Charlie Weis, who undoubtedly checked with a few people he knew within the league for an accurate assessment of Tate’s draft status.

The development of Tate in three seasons has been truly staggering. From a beyond raw wide receiver who only knew how to run a go pattern as a true freshman, to an unstoppable whirling dervish that will most likely win the Biletnikoff Award as the country’s best wide receiver, Tate’s final season, like Clausen’s, should also go down as one of the greatest individual seasons in Notre Dame history.

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    Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end

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    Listed Measurements: 6-foot-4 ¾, 245 pounds.
    2018-19 year, eligibility: Fifth-year tight end with only eligibility in 2018 remaining.
    Depth chart: The springtime emergence of sophomore Cole Kmet bumped Weishar down to third on the depth chart among Notre Dame’s tight ends, but in Irish offensive coordinator Chip Long’s system with a dependence on multiple tight end sets, Weishar should still be considered part of the two-deep.
    Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit and U.S. Army All-American, rivals.com rated Weishar as the No. 7 tight end in his class. He chose Notre Dame over offers from Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma, among others.

    CAREER TO DATE
    Weishar’s career has been spent backing up future NFL tight ends, including fourth-round pick Durham Smythe. That has limited his statistical impact to date, highlighted by his nine catches for 52 yards and two touchdowns last season, including an impressive display of strong hands in the end zone in the season opener against Temple.

    2014: Preserved a year of eligibility.
    2015: 12 games; three catches for 19 yards.
    2016: 12 games; three catches for 47 yards.
    2017: 13 games; nine catches for 52 yards and two touchdowns.

    QUOTE(S)
    Known commodities are not discussed much in the spring. Tracing back to September, Irish head coach Brian Kelly frequently praised Weishar’s hands and tenacity.

    “He can catch the damn football,” Kelly said following the victory over Temple. “Doesn’t matter where you throw it. … He created that on his own, and he’s just had so much confidence in the way he’s been playing and it’s carried over.”

    Weishar’s skillset extends beyond his hands and to his willingness to engage as a blocker. In some respects, that combination makes him the ideal red-zone tight end.

    “He will stick his nose in there,” Kelly said in late September. “… He’s got some grit and toughness to him. We all know he can catch the football, but it’s hard to take him off the field because he’ll throw his body in there and he’ll do whatever is necessary to get the job done.”

    WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
    “[Equanimeous] St. Brown’s breakout campaign last year, [Miles] Boykin’s strong spring showing, sophomore receiver Chase Claypool’s intriguing potential and [Alizé] Mack’s return all diminish Weishar’s role in the Irish offense.

    “If Mack were to flash the inconsistency or immaturity that cost him the 2016 season, suddenly Weishar would be back in the conversation. Offensive coordinator Chip Long has a history of using two tight ends. That makes the third spot on the tight end depth chart less the figurative imprisonment sentence it usually would be. Provided Smythe and Mack both stay healthy and in good graces, though, Weishar’s path to significant playing time in 2017 may have closed.”

    2018 OUTLOOK
    Notre Dame may hope Weishar hardly impacts the season. That would mean both Mack and Kmet play well enough to be featured throughout three months. Considering the former’s track record of inconsistency and immaturity and the latter’s résumé consisting solely of a solid spring, the odds of both Mack and Kmet playing to their potentials are slim.

    It is more likely Weishar’s experience and veteran savvy is needed by midseason, if not sooner. His red-zone presence alone should lead to him equaling last year’s meager stats.

    If the former situation unfolds, Weishar will assuredly deserve some of the credit even as his role is reduced. His mentorship may be what anchors the tight end meetings and development as a whole.

    DOWN THE ROAD
    Weishar will not start against Michigan, so if he does not get drafted he will not jeopardize the lengthy streak of starting Irish tight ends hearing their name called by an NFL front office. That is not to say Weishar has no chance at getting drafted. After all, former Irish tight end Ben Koyack was drafted in the seventh round, and at this point in his career, he had totaled only 14 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns, not all that much more than Weishar’s 15 receptions for 118 yards and two scores to date.

    NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
    No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
    No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
    No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
    No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
    No. 93 (theoretically) Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
    No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
    No. 90 (theoretically) Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
    No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
    No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
    No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
    No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
    No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
    No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
    No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
    No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver, junior

    Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver

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    Listed Measurements: 6-foot-4 3/8, 229 pounds
    2018-19 year, eligibility: Junior with two seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2018.
    Depth chart: Claypool’s positioning on the depth chart hinges on how he compares to sophomore Michael Young. One of the two will be the second option among the receivers, earning the starting duties at the field receiver position, with the other lining up in the slot and splitting time with the tight ends. If focusing solely on three-receiver sets, Claypool may yet line up at slot, providing a physical option on the interior while Young threatens the top of the secondary.
    Recruiting: A consensus four-star recruit, the intriguing Canadian chose the Irish over offers from Michigan, Oregon and Arizona, among others. Do not think Claypool’s development has been slowed by crossing the border. He insists the only difference in the game in arriving at Notre Dame was the speed on the field, a typical challenge for anyone coming from high school, no matter the country.

    CAREER TO DATE
    Claypool’s initial impact may have come on special teams, making 11 tackles in 12 games as a freshman, but he broke through as a receiver in 2017, especially against Wake Forest when he caught nine passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. He started eight games and finished the season second on the team in both catches and receiving yards, trailing Equanimeous St. Brown in each category.

    Claypool missed the Citrus Bowl against LSU with a shoulder injury, but was ready for full contact in spring practice by early April.

    2016: 12 games, five catches for 81 yards.
    2017: 12 games, 29 catches for 402 yards and two touchdowns.
    2018 Blue-Gold Game: Six catches for 151 yards and two scores.

    QUOTE(S)
    Irish head coach Brian Kelly suggested in early April he expects Claypool to wind up in the field position. His physical abilities certainly would make him a threat along the sideline.

    “We think that’s where he can best impact what we want to do,” Kelly said. “Chase is a young man that the attention to detail, the focus, he’s got to bring traits every day. He’s a great-looking kid (physically). He can make plays. We just have to keep working the process with him.

    “If he just respects the process and sticks with it, he’s going to be a really good player.”

    On one hand that process takes time. On the other, it is expedited when a player buys in entirely, something Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long was still waiting for from Claypool this spring.

    “We’re still counting on him to grow,” Long said April 12. “Obviously, he is a great talent. … The moment he decides that, he’s going to be a big-time player. The shoulder held him back a little bit, so he’s kind of getting into the flow of things.

    “When he decides he wants to be great, he’s going to be great.”

    WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
    “Long’s predilection to larger receivers fits in with his tendencies to utilize two tight ends. In some alternate universe, Long has not arrived at Notre Dame and Claypool’s career could have an entirely different direction.

    “Sending Claypool’s frame on quick routes across the middle should provide quarterback Brandon Wimbush an especially-dynamic safety valve of sorts. Typically the last read is a running back in the flat or a tight end on a delayed release. That is not to say Claypool will be the last read — he won’t be. It is to say envisioning him running a five-yard slant from the slot position is to foresee a can’t-miss target only a few yards away from the quarterback.

    “The slot obviously does other things, and Claypool will do them. The point here is to illustrate some of why Long may want to try such height and length at a position usually reserved for shifty converted running backs.

    “This season’s ceiling for Claypool may be about 30 catches and a couple scores.”

    (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

    2018 OUTLOOK
    Where does one collect his winnings for nailing the projection of Claypool’s 2017? Oh, sports gambling was not legal yet? Too bad.

    Looking forward, it may hardly matter if Claypool or Young ends up the No. 2 receiver. Their opportunities opposite senior Miles Boykin may come down to situation and matchup. If a third-and-goal against USC with 6-foot-2 safety Marvell Tell providing man coverage now that cornerback Jack Jones has been ruled out for the season (academics), then perhaps simply throwing a jump ball to Claypool may be the best option.

    Expecting a player to replicate the previous season’s numbers does not usually sound like progress. When suggesting Claypool again end up with 30 catches for a few hundred yards and a couple touchdowns, the more demanding hope would be he avoid Saturday afternoons with none or only one reception, as happened four times in 2017. Some of last year’s ups-and-downs may be attributed to the inconsistent quarterback play, but Claypool was equally unreliable. Overcoming that would mean Kelly’s and Long’s spring-long messages were heard and tended to.

    DOWN THE ROAD
    Claypool and Boykin are on the same timeline in terms of eligibility, but Claypool has put up more career stats than the senior, yet Boykin’s Citrus Bowl heroics and solid spring performance have established him as the top receiver heading into 2018. Claypool (and Young) will have a chance to change that. Whichever receiver proves the steadiest in September will presumably become the primary target through the rest of the fall.

    Claypool has the talent to do that. After his acknowledgements of that ceiling — and the emotions that have kept him from it, following the Blue-Gold Game on April 21 — perhaps he can finally capitalize on that potential in his final year of eligibility in 2019. In that instance, Claypool undoubtedly has the physical gifts to entice NFL front offices.

    RELATED READING: Claypool’s emotions could set the ceiling on Notre Dame’s receivers

    NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
    No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
    No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
    No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
    No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
    No. 93 (theoretically) Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
    No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
    No. 90 (theoretically) Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
    No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
    No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
    No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
    No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
    No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
    No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
    No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore

    Monday’s Leftovers: On gambling and Notre Dame’s 2018 odds; With links to read

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    Just about every sports website last week bore a version of the same headline: “Sports gambling is now legal!” This site did not, in no small part because wagering on sports is hardly more legal now than it was two weeks ago, and for the vast majority of us, that will not change between now and the start of Notre Dame’s season.

    The Supreme Court did not legalize sports gambling across the United States; it removed the illegality of 46 states individually deciding to allow sports gambling. Few states will pass such laws and host operating sportsbooks before Sept. 1. Those that do are likely to be confined to the Atlantic Coast (as in New Jersey and possibly Delaware).

    Even if those headlines had been completely accurate, the greatest purpose of including sports gambling in an intelligent discourse does not change. More than a means to make money — it barely ever is, and the only true exceptions include a boxer beating up on a mixed martial arts fighter in a squared circle — gambling odds offer a truer and more precise method of predictive evaluation than hot takes and polls do. When they were mentioned around these parts last season, it was with those intentions.

    Whereas the headline’s goal is to attract readers, the tweet’s goal is to earn retweets and the poll’s seeming purpose is to offend every fan base, the bookmaker’s goal is to attract equal investment on both sides of a wager, earning his book a five percent return on the entire handle. Money talks, literally so if paying attention.

    With those disclaimers in mind, noticing a few pertinent over/under win totals for the coming season feels like a good use of time. It should be remembered, sportsbooks will not put any win total above 10.5 in college football. Too many variables are in play.

    This scribe predicted the Irish over/under would be set at 9.5. That was apparently high, with the line holding steady at 8.5 wins. Unlike a few to come, it will likely remain at that mark through the offseason, barring any massive suspension.

    Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech and Florida State also all hold at 8.5 as of this morning, though the Cardinal opened as high as 9.5 in some locations and the Hokies can still be found at 7.5 if shopping around. USC opened at 7.5 wins before getting moved all the way up to 9.0 in reliable books.

    Of the Power Five programs with lines set (so, not Ball State and Navy), only Wake Forest and Northwestern are also expected to be better than .500 this season, at 6.5 and 7.5 wins, respectively. Vanderbilt (5.0), Pittsburgh (5.5) and Syracuse (5.5) will be considerable underdogs when they face Notre Dame.

    Speaking of facing Syracuse, perhaps that much-maligned move to play that game at Yankee Stadium in New York City can hold an unexpected benefit for those covering it. New Jersey happens to be so tantalizingly close. Now go ahead and mark off that sentence as one never before written in history.

    ON NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
    Again, only looking at the 10 major-conference foes on the Irish schedule, as well as Notre Dame … and listed in order of likelihood:

    Michigan: 15-to-1.
    Florida State: 30-to-1.
    Notre Dame: 33-to-1 in most places, sometimes as high as 55-to-1.
    Virginia Tech: 45-to-1 for the most part, seen as high as 50-to-1.
    USC: 50-to-1 usually, but some 40-to-1 options exist.
    Stanford: 55-to-1.
    Wake Forest: 225-to-1.
    Syracuse: 350-to-1.
    Northwestern: 350-to-1.
    Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt: 600-to-1 each, otherwise known as 20 percent more of a payout than one would receive if holding an early futures ticket predicting the Las Vegas Golden Knights would win the 2018 Stanley Cup. That is, if the Knights manage to win four more games.

    A LONG HELD HOLLYWOOD GRIEVANCE
    It will shock exactly no one who reads this space to learn I have a few friends who place the occasional wager. If I ever personally live in a state where sports gambling is legal, maybe than I will publicly admit my notebook paying homage to the Philadelphia 76ers is filled with more than hypothetical wagers. Until then, it is certainly nothing more than a proof of concept.

    Frankly, Don Cheadle’s (left) English accent in the “Ocean’s” trilogy does not get the critical praise it deserves. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

    One of those friends considers “Ocean’s 11” to be among his favorite movies, understandably so. Within that, he elevates the most-quoted Daniel Ocean line above all other bits of that script.

    “Because the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes, the house takes you. Unless when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big, and then you take the house.”

    What card game exactly is Mr. Ocean playing? The perfect blackjack hand is not seen until the wager has already been placed, and it can still be foiled by the dealer flipping 21. Poker is not played against the house. It is against players. Go ahead, when that perfect hand comes along, bet big, but you are only taking other losers’ money. You never take the house.

    As it pertains to sports gambling, a topic to which Danny was not referring, herein lies the flaw to presuming profits. There is no perfect hand. UMBC beats Virginia. Leicester City wins the Premier League. An expansion team reaches the Stanley Cup Final. The house always wins.

    Use gambling odds to put a conversation in perspective. Perhaps place a small bet to make a meaningless September afternoon more entertaining. Do not expect the supposed legalization of sports gambling to lead to a new source of taxable income.

    INSIDE THE IRISH READING
    Tricks with jersey numbers; Troy Pride’s sprinter’s speed
    No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end
    Auburn walk-on fullback transfers to Notre Dame, following in family’s footsteps
    No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver
    No. 87 Michael Young, receiver
    No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end
    No. 85 George Takacs, tight end
    Notre Dame’s defensive line recruiting surge continues with Texas four-star’s commitment
    No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain
    No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end

    OUTSIDE READING
    USC starting CB Jack Jones to miss 2018 season (academics)
    Incoming Irish receiver Braden Lenzy earns four top-two finishes at Oregon Track Championships
    Notre Dame football’s Brian VanGorder got at least $257,000 in buyout
    A smattering of initial win totals from betonline.ag
    Joe Staley preparing Mike McGlinchey to one day take his job
    Jaylon Smith expects to be ‘better than Notre Dame 100 percent’
    Bears waive Nyles Morgan

    Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end

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    Listed Measurements: 6-foot-5 ½, 255 pounds
    2018-19 year, eligibility: Sophomore with three seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2018.
    Depth chart: Kmet will be the second option among Notre Dame’s vertical threats at tight end, behind senior Alizé Mack, provided Mack proves more reliable than he has in the past.
    Recruiting: Not only was Kmet a consensus four-star prospect, he was a consensus top-five tight end in the country. Rivals.com, for example, rated Kmet as the No. 3 tight end in the class of 2017.

    CAREER TO DATE
    Kmet appeared in all 13 games last season, catching two passes for 14 yards against Wake Forest, both completions from back-up quarterback Ian Book, on back-to-back passes in fact. Kmet also dropped a red-zone pass on a third down that November afternoon, that one attempted by starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush.

    QUOTE(S)
    Much of the praise around Kmet this spring revolved around his ability to excel both in football practices and baseball games. In his first collegiate season on the mound, Kmet appeared in 25 games, notching eight saves with a 4.76 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 45 1/3 innings, striking out 37 batters.

    “He handles two sports here and is never on a list,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in late March. “He never is a guy we have to worry about in terms of going to class and representing Notre Dame in the fashion that he needs to. A pretty extraordinary young man in terms of the whole picture.

    “… He catches the ball, soft hands, he’s physical at the point of attack, and when he catches the ball, he runs through tacklers, which is in itself pretty impressive.”

    At some points this spring, Kelly and offensive coordinator Chip Long gave Kmet the option of taking a football practice off if following a late baseball game. The tight end dismissed that notion.

    “You can see some days where it wears on him,” Long said in mid-April. “… But he’s been extremely consistent. Staying with us all last fall, you can see where the carryover has been big for him to blossom this spring.”

    WHAT WAS PROJECTED A YEAR AGO
    “A situation in which Kmet plays in 2017 is nearly beyond fathoming. An injury crisis would have to tear through the Irish tight ends in order to make playing the sixth and most-inexperienced option a necessity.

    “Kmet’s odds of seeing action this season were further diminished when [classmate Brock] Wright not only enrolled early but also held his own in spring practice. It is not that Wright is far-and-away better than Kmet, it is the head start will be most noticeable in their freshman campaign. If Notre Dame opts to play a freshman tight end, it will be Wright, not Kmet.”

    2018 OUTLOOK
    This projection cannot be more inaccurate than last year’s, so that’s a start.

    Kmet complements Mack as a viable receiving option among the Irish tight ends, but he could become more than that. That speaks as much to Mack’s habitual inconsistency as it does to Kmet’s soft hands and aptness at the point of attack. His rise, though, could be the push Mack needs to focus. For the team, that may be the best-case scenario: Kmet plays well, leading to Mack playing better. Both would get their fair share of opportunities in Long’s multiple tight end schemes. That is the version of the Irish offense which would be a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.

    If Kmet were to statistically surpass Mack for a week or two in September, that could just as equally result in Mack checking out mntally. To be blunt, such a disappointment could happen with or without Kmet’s success this fall, but having another dangerous pass-catcher at tight end for Long to tinker with would diminish the possible debilitating effects.

    The gap between those two scenarios is vast. Last year, Notre Dame’s top-three tight ends (Mack, Durham Smythe and returning fifth-year Nic Weishar) combined for 43 catches for 462 yards and four touchdowns. If Kmet and Mack could combine for about those totals, maybe 500 yards and four touchdowns on 45 catches, then that would be a solid baseline, no matter how those stats are distributed.

    DOWN THE ROAD
    Mack could return in 2019, but Kmet will continue to rise to prominence in Long’s system. His combination of height and hands makes him an intriguing piece for a tight end-heavy offense. However, some caution needs to be exercised. Kmet looked solid in his freshman season and certainly impressed across the board this spring, but that is all a far cry from excelling in the fall.

    Kmet should contribute this season and take the lead in 2019, with or without Mack on the Irish roster, but he may not yet become an offensive staple even then. If his progression follows an understated rate, that day may come in 2019 or 2020. Part of that inevitable outlook traces to Notre Dame’s tight end reputation. They keep becoming NFL contributors, Smythe after Koyack after Niklas after Eifert …

    NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
    No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
    No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
    No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
    No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
    No. 93 (theoretically) Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
    No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
    No. 90 (theoretically) Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
    No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
    No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
    No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
    No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
    No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
    No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior