Clausen's announcement is not that big of surprise. He showed marked improvement over the course of his three years in South Bend and probably played as good, if not better, than any other quarterback in the nation this year. He completed 68 percent of his passes, threw for 3,722 yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions (three of which were tipped).
When he chose to attend Notre Dame over USC he shared that one of his deciding factors was (now former) head coach Charlie Weis' proclivity to develop upper echelon quarterbacks (see Tom Brady and Brady Quinn).
Now that he has developed into a strong pocket passer in a pro-style offense it is clearly time for him to move on in his career. There is no sense putting oneself in harm's way like Sam Bradford experienced this year.
Golden Tate, Clausen's go-to target all season long, is a bit more of a shock to leave early. He came to the Irish as a standout athlete in both baseball and football.
From the moment he stepped foot on campus he excelled on the diamond. On the gridiron he struggled to transition from his high school position (running back) to his new position (wide receiver) as he only knew one route - a 'go' route. Like any fine wine, though, he got better with age. In 2009 he finished with 93 catches for 1,496 yard (both ND school season records) and 15 receiving touchdowns (ties record).
Rather than staying for his senior year and learning a new offensive system with a new quarterback he decided to leave while his stock is rising. After all, as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award he is regarded as one of the best collegiate receivers.
I doubt they will both wind up on the same team in the pros but it is likely they will both build off the momentum from their junior seasons. Maybe Golden can go help Brady Quinn out though...
Gentlemen. Good luck gentlemen.