Pope John Paul II High School coach Jeff Brothers has a strong message for all of the NFL scouts worried about the size and speed of wide receiver prospect Golden Tate.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Golden+Tate&iid=6697286″ src=”c/e/a/7/Washington_v_Notre_c547.jpg?adImageId=10765553&imageId=6697286″ width=”234″ height=”290″ /]“He stands just under 6 feet but plays like he’s 6-5,” said Brothers, under whom Tate (5-11, 195) gained national attention as a running back/receiver/returner before signing with Notre Dame. “He can jump out of the stadium, and he has the low center of gravity of a running back. He can separate from just about anybody who tries to cover him, so then what difference does size make? If they can stay with him, he’ll outfight them for the ball. He showed that many times in his career, even through double teams.”
It’s hard to argue with Tate’s production for the Irish last season: 93 receptions for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns. He added an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown. And consider this: Notre Dame played without its other starting wide receiver, Michael Floyd, for five games after he was injured against Michigan State. That meant defenses were free to concentrate on Tate, and still no one could stop him. During Floyd’s absence Tate had 37 receptions for 626 yards and six touchdowns. That’s a nice season for most college receivers.
Whether or not his 40-yard dash time at the draft combine meets with the approval of the NFL cognoscenti, Brothers believes Tate will have little trouble at the next level.
“Golden is a VERY hard worker,” Brothers said. “He has obvious talent, but he works harder than anybody else to develop it. He has the strongest/surest hands I have ever seen and outstanding vision when he’s running with the ball. He can change directions at full speed, too. All of that in one guy is pretty rare.”
Not to mention the fact he’s grounded and well-rounded, not the type who ever is going to bring embarrassment to his team.
“He’s as good a kid as you’ll find,” Brothers said. “We used Golden everywhere.
“All of the amazing catches he has made the last few years are just repeats of the ones he made for us. His high school highlight film is full of that stuff. Tailback, receiver, kick returner, punt returner, punter, quarterback, defensive back. He even lined up at scout team guard when we needed one.”
A running back who finished his college career in Nashville and a wide receiver who finished his high school career in the area are among the best players at their respective positions in the upcoming NFL Draft.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=C.J.+Spiller&iid=7324226″ src=”f/9/4/8/ACC_Championship_b858.jpg?adImageId=10723796&imageId=7324226″ width=”234″ height=”187″ /]Clemson running back C.J. Spiller led the Tigers to a 21-13 Music City Bowl victory over Kentucky with 68 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and 57 yards on three catches. His 8-yard TD run in the fourth quarter made him the only player to score a touchdown in every game last season.
Spiller became the first ACC player to post 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season, and he tied the league record for touchdowns in a season with 21.
Spiller, 5-11, 195, is the consensus No. 1 running back in the draft. He also is an electrifying kickoff returner, with three KO returns for touchdowns over the past two seasons. He was the first player in the history of the Walter Camp All-American teams to be named at two positions in the same year: He was first-team AA as a kick returner and second-team AA as a running back.
Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate played his high school ball at Pope John Paul II in Hendersonville. He entered the draft after a junior season in which he had 93 receptions for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns and added an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown.
He’s the same size as Spiller, and while he doesn’t have the straightaway speed of his Clemson counterpart Tate played quite a bit at running back in high school and knows how to make defenders miss. His size is a drawback to NFL scouts, who prefer taller, speedier receivers. But teams that pass on him in favor of the prototypes available in this draft will look back five years from now and realize they made a horrible mistake. Tate runs hard, has a great vertical jump, fights for the ball, and catches in traffic like few others in this draft.
CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH TATE’S HIGH SCHOOL COACH, JEFF BROTHERS.
Last year the contracts of LB Keith Bulluck and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch combined to count $15.6 million against the Titans’ salary cap. Their salary cap numbers ranked 1-2 on the team, with Bulluck at $9.1 million.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=julius+peppers&iid=7436302″ src=”7/5/c/8/Carolina_Panthers_v_b3c4.jpg?adImageId=10680386&imageId=7436302″ width=”234″ height=”307″ /]
No, the Titans have never been big players in the free-agency market. They’ve typically targeted mid-level veterans, players such as Chris Hope, Nick Harper and Nate Washington. But with the team highly unlikely to re-sign Bulluck and Vanden Bosch, both of whom are unrestricted free agents, wouldn’t it make sense for them to be a player in the Julius Peppers sweepstakes? Based on the departing salaries, the money is there to be a contender.
Everyone knows one of the Titans’ biggest offseason needs is at defensive end. Peppers, who has played all eight of his NFL seasons for the Carolina Panthers, recently turned 30, and while that age may be a death knell for a running back, it’s hardly the same for a DE. Hall of Famer Bruce Smith produced 10 seasons of 10 more sacks after hitting 30. Hall of Famer Reggie White had six 10-sack seasons after reaching 30. Kevin Greene had seven 10-sack seasons from 30 on.
If any team knows the dramatic impact a single great performer can have along the defensive line it should be the Titans. They simply weren’t the same after DT Albert Haynesworth departed via free agency before the 2009 season and signed with the Washington Redskins. How much better would young Titans linemen Tony Brown and William Hayes look with a pass-rusher the caliber of Peppers alongside them?
Peppers has 81 sacks in his eight seasons. Only Jason Taylor (88) and Dwight Freeney (84) have more during that span.
Think about what Titans defensive line coach Jim Washburn did for Vanden Bosch’s career. KVB’s time in Arizona (second-round pick, 2001) was an injury-riddled mess. The Cardinals allowed him to leave as an unrestricted free agent, and the Titans signed him for the bargain basement price of less than $500,000 for the 2005 season. All he did was become a two-time Pro Bowler (2005, 2007) who started 74 of 80 regular-season games over the next five seasons.
Offenses would shutter at the thought of Peppers under the tutelage of Washburn. The two of them together would significantly bolster a unit that went from seventh in the league in total defense in 2008 to 28th in 2009.