Aside from Tim Tebow, Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen is the most polarizing prospect in the 2010 NFL Draft. Mel Kiper has Clausen rated highly (Clausen is No. 4 on Kiper's big board). Meanwhile, Kiper's fake-baking nemesis doesn't even think Clausen should be selected in the first round this April.
Matt McGuire had the opportunity to talk to Clausen about Todd McShay's alleged character issues and several other things pertaining to Notre Dame, Charlie Weis and his eventual pro career. Here's what Clausen had to say.
1. When you reflect on your experience attending Notre Dame, what do value most?
I value the relationships. Leaving home halfway through my senior year in high school. Going away, being on my own for three years has just really helped me out not only on
the field physically, but mentally and spiritually. Going through a stage of my life on my own has really changed my life for the better.
2. What's your most memorable moment in your collegiate career?
The win at Purdue this past season. The game before I tore two tendons in my toe. We went to Purdue and won with 20 seconds left to go in the game.
3. Who was the best defensive player you faced in your career?
I'd have to say probably Everson Griffen (defensive end, USC).
4. How would you say you've developed as a leader at Notre Dame?
I think I've really developed. I went to Notre Dame for two reasons. One, obviously was because of Coach [Charlie] Weis and the other one was to best replicate what it would be like playing at the next level. There is a progression from
high school to college, and being a leader at a big-time program, you just progress each and every year. I think I have done a great job at that in the transition from high school to college.
5. Every year at Notre Dame you showed significant improvement. What do you attribute this to?
It's the growth and development of going to college and then from college to the NFL. Each and every every year, you are going to get better and this past season showed
what my progression is going to be like at the next level.
6. What has Charlie Weis done to help you as a quarterback?
He has done everything. He watched tape with me. He's really good in every aspect of the game. He's a real smart guy, and obviously he's won a few Super Bowl rings. All I try to do
is listen to everything he says and learn from my mistakes. You throw an interception and then go back in film room then seeing the corrections I can make. You progress each and every week,
and each and every day.
7. Why do you love football?
I love the competitive nature of the game of football and I love having the ball in my hands in crucial situations.
8. What would you say your strengths as a football player are?
First and foremost, taking care of the football. This past season I really forced myself to take what the defense gives me and keep moving the chains down the field, and I think that's
why I had four picks this whole season. I feel like I have real good accuracy and put the ball in real tight spaces. Being under Coach Weis and being in a pro-style offense
under center, it obviously helped me. The other biggest thing is my durability. Being able to take hits and then get up. Being able to play with two torn tendons
in my toe over a long period of the season that I have a lot of toughness and durability.
9. If there was one aspect of your game you want to improve at the next level, what would that be?
Obviously going from college to NFL you are going to have more time to spend in the film room and do the little things like watch as much tape as you can.
You always hear Tom Brady and Peyton Manning all being in the film room watching tape and that's what I want to be. I want to be a gym rat in the film room. Each and every day get better - make myself better and my teammates better, and just help the team win games.
10. Your brothers Rick and Casey played Division-1 football. What advice have they given you throughout your career?
They have given me a lot of advice. Watch tape as much as you can. Whenever they were back in South Bend or California with me they are always there for me to help me through the good times
and the bad times. I thank them
all the time for giving me the opportunity for being able to watch film when we were at Tennessee and learn from their experiences.
11. What motivates you to succeed?
I am self-motivated. It isn't just one thing that motivates me to succeed. I just want to be the best person and player that I can be. That's why I work every single day to make myself
better in all areas of the game of football and life.
12. What do you want to do with your life after football?
I don't know. I want to do something with football or sports. I've played sports my whole life.
13. How would you respond to the critics who say you are immature or question you as a teammate?
For the people that know me know that's a false statement, but there's obviously a lot of people out there who obviously don't who I am as a person.
That's one of the big reasons why I was looking forward to going down to the Combine was just for the coaches and GMs to get a feel for me as a person and for me to get a feel for them
as well. That was a real good experience for me.
14. When Roger Goodell calls your name and you're officially in the NFL, what will be going through your mind?
I am just going to be excited. I am going to celebrate with my family then a few minutes later get on an airplane and fly to my new home and my team.
15. What do you want to accomplish in the NFL?
Ultimately, I want to be a starting quarterback and help my team win games and do whatever I can to help the team win. If it is not starting then it's being on a scout team or backing
up a quarterback, or just doing the little
things I can to help the team win. Ultimately, I'd like to win a division, get to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl down the road.
Quick Jimmy Clausen Facts:
Favorite QBs: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Troy Aikman.
Favorite non-football athletes: LeBron James and Shaun White
Favorite food: Italian
Pre-game meal: Pasta
Pre-game ritual: Listen to music before game in warm-ups.
Star on the rise at Notre Dame: Manti Te'o
Toughest college course: Statistics
Weirdest Combine interview question: If you could be a dog or cat, what would you choose?