"I remember filming school projects with that guy. We go back pretty far," said Crist.
Crist and Clausen were introduced in middle school through a mutual friend named Chris Potter.
"We were both real close family friends with them," said Crist, who was introduced to quarterback guru Steve Clarkson by the duo. "We started throwing together with the same quarterback coach at the end of middle school."
Crist does not remember exactly what the school project was, but he knows that it had something to do with sports.
"We couldn't dunk a basketball, so we were like little kids dunking off a trash can and things like that," he laughed.
Potter is now a receiver at Boise State while his former middle school pals are competing for the starting quarterback job at Notre Dame. Crist has taken comfort in the familiarity of having Clausen around.
"It's great having a friend out here that you can relate to and someone that is equally as competitive as you and is able to push you and make you better," he said.
"I think that we're both great competitors, we both care a lot about winning and that's obviously both of our first priorities. Everything we do, we do to compete and to make the team better and I think in doing that I think we've both grown incredibly."
Crist feels good about the progress that he has made through the first couple weeks of spring.
"I can't talk too much on depth chart and stuff like that, but I feel like I'm competing pretty well," he said. "Obviously, I'm not satisfied until it's perfect."
He has learned from the good and bad of Clausen last season.
"Obviously, you're going to learn the most from mistakes, but Jimmy did a lot of things that were great, made a lot of plays for our team and even off the field, just leadership qualities," he said. "But as a quarterback core, we're obviously going back and looking at the film and trying to learn from our mistakes more than things that we do right. We kind of expect ourselves to play great."
Clausen being a year ahead of him in school did not dissuade Crist from signing with Notre Dame and, if anything, it may have been a positive in hiss recruitment. Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis played to Crist's competitive nature on his recruiting trip.
"He said, ‘Hey, I understand that we've got some guys here. If you're scared to compete, I understand that too.' That didn't sit well with me at all," said Crist. "That was the first time I walked into his office. I had spoken with him on the phone, but the first time I sat down with him, he got under my skin a little bit, I'll admit."
Now that he is in South Bend, Crist is taking it a step further when it comes to recruiting his future teammates. Crist has tried to reach out to just about every Notre Dame commit to try to welcome them.
"I feel like that's kind of my role as an upcoming leader, but more importantly these are the guys that you go to school with, that you're playing with," said Crist. "These are your guys for the next couple of years and I just want to have as great a chemistry as I can with these guys and help them in anyway that I can.
"I want this team to be great. I'm here; I want to win. Whatever I can do to win is what I want to do. I've got to bring all of the guys with me as well."
Crist had so much belief in Notre Dame's future that he chose the Irish over LSU and Southern California.
"It just came down to the right fit, the right coach, the right program and the right players," he said. "I believe that we can win a National Championship here, I have full faith in that and that's what we're working to do."
HAFIS HAS NO REGRETS: Hafis Williams is not disappointed in the least about not playing during his freshman year in 2008.
"Last season was great. It was just a great learning experience, just on scout team just helping make the offense better and learning myself and working on my technique," said Williams. "It wasn't frustrating at all, it was just a great learning experience."
A coach could not ask for a better attitude than the one that Williams brought with him last year.
"I just went out to practice everyday and worked hard and just tried to make the best of the situation. The coaches did what they had to do," he said. "It was just a great thing. I just learned so much, I helped the offense get better, I got better myself. If I didn't play last year, it didn't matter because I was just making the team better every single day."
But now that he has preserved a year of eligibility for down the road, Williams is ready to make an impact on the game field in 2009 and that mission started this spring.
"Spring is going great. I'm just learning a new system and everything and having fun," he said. "I just go out there and work hard and just give 110% everyday."
Williams came into the spring listed behind Ethan Johnson at defensive tackle, but his strong play early in the sessions prompted the coaches to move Johnson to end, elevating Williams to number one. But Williams is not focused on depth charts because he knows how fluid they can be.
"It's spring ball right now," he said. "The depth chart just goes up and down. I'm just working hard to make myself better and make my teammates better."
DUNCAN SENSES URGENCY: Left tackle Paul Duncan underwent an attitude adjustment prior to this year's spring practice.
"It probably should have been the same the last four years, but I have my second chance as I keep calling it now, coming back for a fifth year because I wasn't planning on it because I used up my year freshman year," he said. "This is my second chance and I realize what I left on the table last year."
So far, Duncan is making the most of his final opportunity as both Weis and offensive line coach Frank Verducci have singled him out as one of the most pleasant surprises of the spring. Duncan is trying to replace Michael Turkovich, who won the left tackle job in 2008 with Duncan sidelined with a hip injury.
Duncan and Turkovich are very close and Duncan was happy to see his friend succeed last season.
"We're best friends. We're roommates and stuff, real good guy," said Duncan. "It wasn't frustrating at all. I love to see Turk play; he did a great job too. I was proud of him, I'm glad to see what he's doing and where he's going."
Turkovich has given Duncan some simple advice.
"Just play ball. Just forget about it, let loose," Duncan relayed.
RUDOLPH HAS GOALS: Tight end Kyle Rudolph came into his freshman year with some pretty high goals. The targets ranged from getting on the field to becoming a Freshman All-American and just about all of them were accomplished.
"You always set lofty goals and you're not sure if you're going to achieve them," he said. "Going through the year and achieving goals that I set for myself was definitely a big relief and very good satisfaction."
Rudolph also reached his goals during his first offseason, which surrounded him getting back to his peaks in the weight room. He has yet to finalize his goals for his sophomore season, but the most obvious one is to be an All-American.
"Definitely, I think that's everyone's goal. Everyone that plays college football wants to be an All-American," he said. "You see all the guys' names up on the walls in the backs of our meeting rooms and you see the helmets in the stadium. I definitely think that's everyone's goal."
DUVAL DAY-TO-DAY: Wide receiver Duval Kamara is recovering from a strained hamstring.
"It's just day-to-day," he said.
Kamara has been able to go through some individual drills, but was held out of the one-on-one and scrimmage portions of Saturday's open practice.
"It's a little frustrating," he admitted. "Any athlete, any competitor is frustrated when they can't go out there and compete."
But Kamara is such a supporter of his teammates that he still gets excited when the guys that he is competing with produce.
"It makes me feel good," he said. "We're all friends, we're all cool, so we go out there and cheer each other on."
Kamara feels that the individual talent at the position will improve the receivers as a whole.
"I think it's a good thing," he said. "There's a lot of competition on the field and I think it's better for all of us to compete out there against each other and get each other better."