Speed Not an Issue For Clausen

SAN ANTONIO - Playing with 11 Division I guys at Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif., Jimmy Clausen had seen a lot of speed on the football field. He also played against a couple talented high school programs. None of that compared to what the Notre Dame quarterback commit has seen in this week in practice at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

"It was pretty different," Clausen stated. "Everson Griffin and I were talking about it. I was dropping back that first day and he got to me right in a second and that's how it's going to be. I'm glad I got an opportunity to do this before I go to Notre Dame because it's going to give me an edge once I get there.

"I consider this college level so just the speed of the game is a lot faster. I've gotten a lot better with it, and I feel real comfortable with it right now."

While some guys are still struggling with the speed four days into practice, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Clausen has settled right in. He didn't look like himself the first practice, but other than that, he has been accurate and poised. On one pass attempt, Clausen rolled out, saw nothing to the short side of the field, looked across the field and hit a receiver in stride throwing across his body.

Defensive linemen like Griffin have voiced their frustrations that right when they are about to hit Clausen, he gets rid of the football for a completion.

"Just that first day, that transition going from high school to college was a little different, just the first practice," Clausen explained. "The next practice I got a lot more comfortable with it."

Clausen, who went undefeated as a prep starter and helped lead his team to four straight state championships, has been named one of five finalists for the Ken Hall U.S. Army All-American Player of the Year Award. Maybe the greatest high school football player ever, Hall rushed for a national career high 11,232 yards, graduating from Sugar Land High in 1953.

Clausen finished his regular season completing 194-of-281 passes (69 percent) for 3,428 yards, 49 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The other four finalists for the Player of the Year award are running back Joe McKnight, quarterback Ryan Mallett, defensive tackle Marvin Austin and offensive lineman Anthony Davis. The winner will be announced at Saturday's game.

"It's a privilege to be here with all these great athletes in this hotel," Clausen said. "Just being up for an award like this is something special and something all five of us will never forget. But I'm just having fun this week down here meeting a lot of guys and having a lot of fun."

Since arriving, the players haven't had much down time. Going from two-a-day practices to meetings and what not, and Clausen said some of the guys are getting tired. They can't wait for Saturday's game.

"It's going to be a lot of fun playing against guys like Marvin Austin, to name one guy, the East defense is real good."


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories