Clausen Living up to Expectations

The nation's No. 1 player is certainly living up to the hype this season. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen has his Oaks Christian high school team on cruise control with a perfect 9-0 start with one game remaining before the playoffs.

Irish Eyes spoke with the father of Jimmy Clausen, Jim Clausen Sr., to get an update on the 6-foot-3, 200-pound top quarterback prospect.

"Jimmy's having a pretty good season. The team is 9-0 right now and all the guys are playing very well right now," Jim Clausen said. "It's been a real fun year this year. Everyone on the team are the reason they're 9-0, not just Jimmy, and everyone on the team has played really well."

But the younger Clausen is a large part of the success. The five-star prospect is 99-of-149 attempts passing, for 1,975 yards, 29 touchdowns and has thrown just one interception on the year.

"We're not really stat guys," the older Clausen said when asked about Jimmy's stats this season. "The only stat that matters is winning, so I guess the team is doing very well and Jimmy's a part of that. I think he's playing very well this year.

"I don't know how much you follow it, but Jimmy's rarely played much in the second half, so his stats won't be anything amazing. But like I said, winning is all that matters, and they've been winning."

The last time we spoke with Jim Clausen he said he wasn't sure if Jimmy would participate in the Army All-American game, but that decision has now been made.

"He's planning on playing in the game," he said. "We're committed to it. I think he's looking forward to it, but he first has to finish his season. We spoke with coach Weis and he said he didn't have any problem with it. He told us to go ahead and play so that's what he's going to do."

Once the younger Clausen closes his high school chapter with the Army game he'll move on to Notre Dame and compete for the starting quarterback position this spring.

"I know he's really looking forward to that," Clausen said. "I think it's all going to come down to the speed of the game and how quickly he can pick up the verbiage and the offense.

"I think that his accuracy will be an advantage. I think he has plenty of arm strength. I think he has good mobility to move side to side. It's just that the gaps he throws into right now will start to close and he'll have to get used to the speed of the game. Casey (former Tennessee starting quarterback, his quarterback coach at Oaks, and brother of Jimmy) has really been invaluable to him with preparing him for that next level. He talks to Rick every day as well. I think he'll be ready and we'll just have to see how it plays out.

"If Jimmy doesn't start next year it won't be coach Weis's fault," Clausen added. "Jimmy has to step it up to that level….whether that takes three months, six months, or three years, that's all up to him."

But the younger Clausen has to finish his senior season before he moves on to Notre Dame. In fact, Clausen and his teammates have a chance to finish their high school career without losing a game.

"We have one game this Thursday and then it's the playoffs," Clausen said. "I think it's four playoff games and then the state championship if they're lucky enough to get that far. It's been a pretty exciting year."

But has it been as crazy as many anticipated with all the hype?

"I don't think it's been a zoo at all," the elder Clausen said. "I think we've tried to keep it as normal as we could. I think Jimmy's really enjoyed his final season. He just has to finish it strong and then move on to the next chapter. Right now he's just focusing on his school, which he's doing great in, his teammates and his friends. He knows it will be much or business-like at the next level so he's just enjoying this while he can."

And what about his future coach, Charlie Weis?

"We told coach Weis not to even bother coming out to see Jimmy play," Clausen said. "He wanted to come out but we told him to use that time to go out and find other great players. Go find some great defensive players because they'll need that. We told him not to worry about us. He's definitely coming. There's nothing that would change our minds about that. There's no need for him to come out here."


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