The school announced the players’ decisions Monday before a news conference was held on campus. They made their decisions after talking to fired Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis on Friday.
“Growing up as a kid, one of my lifelong dreams has been to play in the NFL and with that being said, with the support of my family and coaches, I will be forgoing my senior year and entering the 2010 NFL draft,” Clausen said in a release handed out by the school before his news conference.
Tate said the decision was hard for him, saying he had made a lot of great friends playing both football and baseball at Notre Dame.
“But after talking with my family and coach Weis, I am going to pursue my dream and enter next year’s NFL draft,” he said.
Clausen, who is from Westlake Village, Calif., arrived at Notre Dame in 2007 as the most-hyped Notre Dame quarterback since Ron Powlus arrived in 1993. Clausen announced his decision at an event at the College Football Hall of Fame, arriving in a Hummer limo, flashing three rings he won playing high school football and said he was coming to Notre Dame “to try to get four national championship rings.”
He leaves without bringing the Irish to a single Bowl Championship Series game. The only bowl game the Irish went to in his three years as a starter was the Hawaii Bowl last season, a 49-21 victory over Hawaii that ended Notre Dame’s NCAA-record bowl losing steak at nine.
He started 34 games for the Irish, posting a 16-18 record. He finished this season ranked second in the country in pass efficiency behind Boise State’s Kellen Moore. Clausen was 289-of-425 passing for 3,722 yards and 28 touchdowns this year with four interceptions. He averaged 310 yards per game passing.
No one would have expected Tate to even consider leaving early during his freshman season. He could hardly get on the field because he was a tailback in high school and needed to learn how to run pass routes. He only had six catches for 131 yards that season.
He began showing progress last season, leading the Irish in all-purpose yards with 1,754. He caught 58 passes for 1,080 yards, an average of 18.9 yards a catch. But he flourished this past season, becoming a more well-rounded receiver and repeatedly making highlight-reel catches.
Tate was even talked about as a possible Heisman Trophy contender until the Irish lost their last four games.
The 5-11, 195-pound junior from Hendersonville, Tenn., had 93 catches for 1,496 yards with 15 receiving TDs and two rushing TDs and a punt return for a touchdown. He finished third in the nation in receiving yards per game (124.67) and seventh catches per game (7.75).