South Bend, IN (Sports Network) - Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and wide receiver Golden Tate announced their intentions to declare for the NFL Draft.
The juniors made the announcement at a press conference Monday, at which they were joined by former Irish head coach Charlie Weis, who was fired last week. Weis was there at the request of the players, and did not answer questions.
Weis' advice played a big part in each player's decision to forgo his senior season, though in slightly different ways. Clausen said he spoke to Weis after the season, and Weis told the quarterback he was ready for the draft.
"That first conversation, he just told me that I'm ready to go, whether he was going to be here or not," Clausen said.
Clausen had his most impressive season this year, statistically, as the junior had 3,722 passing yards and 28 touchdowns on 289-of-425 completions, with just four interceptions.
Tate said he had a discussion earlier in the year in which Weis said he shouldn't leave unless he met statistical benchmarks of 17 touchdowns and 1,500 receiving yards.
"And he hit the nail right on the head," said Tate, who ended the season with 93 catches for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Tate added that a lot of things played a part in him deciding to leave, including Clausen's decision and the idea that he didn't think he could get better at the college level.
"I just feel it was the right time, go out while you're hot," Tate said.
Despite high goals, in the three seasons that Clausen and Tate were part of the team, the Irish never finished better than 7-6, a record they posted last season after defeating Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.
After a four-game losing streak, Notre Dame finished 2009 at 6-6, and elected not to accept a bowl bid after Weis' firing. While neither player said Weis' departure and the ensuing change for the program played a part in his decision, there was some amount of regret.
"Obviously when you come to a college program you want to win a national championship and win as many games as you can. Obviously we didn't do that," Clausen said. "But at the same time, it's just the next step in our lives."
Both players emphasized that while it would be tough to leave the team behind, it was time to go.
"It's been a special time here," Clausen said. "I probably won't realize that until a few years down the road. When I think about not being here next year, next semester, it gives me chills."
Clausen joined Notre Dame as a much-heralded recruit and in 35 games (34 starts) in three seasons, he threw for 8,148 yards and 60 touchdowns against 27 interceptions, while completing just under 63 percent of his passes.
Tate, also a member of the Irish's baseball team, had a punt return for a score as well as two rushing TDs this season. He started sparingly his freshman year and ended his career with 157 catches for 2,707 yards and 26 scores in 37 games.