Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 29. 2014 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 101 of 112

IRISH IN THE PROS BY ANDREW OWENS A fter Jimmy Clausen rolled up to the College Football Hall of Fame in a stretch Hummer limousine on April 22, 2006, and announced his intentions to attend Notre Dame and win m u l t i p l e n a t i o n a l championships, few — if any — would h a v e b e l i e v e d h e w o u l d e v e n t u a l l y look back at his Irish career and point to a Hawaii Bowl victory as the top moment. That, however, is exactly how Clau‑ sen views the 49‑21 win over Hawaii on Dec. 24, 2008. "Going to the bowl game my sophomore year and playing the way we did [was spe‑ cial]," Clausen said. "Offensively, we felt that we couldn't be stopped. It was fun to be in Hawaii with all of the guys and Coach [Charlie] Weis and the coaching staff, and friends and family. It was a great experience." Nearly five years after Clausen took his final snap at Notre Dame and de‑ clared for the NFL as a junior, he be‑ gins his first year with the Chicago Bears as the backup to Pro Bowl sig‑ nal‑caller Jay Cutler. "Coming into Notre Dame and being an 18‑ or 19‑year‑old kid and trying to go in there and compete as a true fresh‑ man was tough on me," Clausen said. "But just to go through adversity and that freshman year at Notre Dame really helped me my rookie year and the past four years mentally." In Clausen's first season, Notre Dame went 3‑9 in Weis' third year after a slew of veterans de‑ parted following a 10‑3 campaign in 2006. By game two, a 31‑10 loss at Penn State, Clausen was starting with an of‑ fensive line in front of him that allowed an NCAA‑record 58 sacks that year. As a sophomore, he showed improve‑ ment with sopho‑ more receiver Golden Tate and freshman Michael Floyd, both of whom will be in Clausen's wedding in February. In his third and final season in South Bend, the team finished 6‑6 and Weis was axed, but Clausen produced one of the more underrated seasons by an Irish signal‑caller with 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions. A Second Chance Former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen signed with the Chicago Bears during the offseason and in training camp earned the right to back up Jay Cutler. PHOTO BY BILL SMITH/COURTESY CHICAGO BEARS

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