Jimmy Clausen (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Jimmy Clausen is one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the NFL Draft, and Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine he spent time answering questions about his toe injury, his leadership abilities and his days at Notre Dame.
What kind of quarterback coach is Charlie Weis?
"He's a great quarterback coach, one of the best I've ever had. He's probably the smartest coach I've ever been around. Coach Weiss definitely knows what he's doing. He puts me in a great position to go out there and just play football and make plays."
What is the update on your injury?
"I hurt it the third game of the season in the second quarter against Michigan State. I tore two ligaments in that game and I played the rest of the season taking painkillers for every single game. At the end of the season I got another MRI. From playing on the two torn tendons, my sesamoid bones in my toe retracted about one centimeter. So Dr. Mark Myerson out of Baltimore had to reattach the tendons and put two pins in there to hold those tendons and he also had to move those sesamoid bones back up.”
Do you have any regrets playing through the season with that injury?
"All they told me was that it was turf toe. So I just had to gut it out for my team and went out there each and every game and tried to give it my best."
How much do you think you've matured at Notre Dame and how do you respond to your critics?
"I've grown tremendously since I came into Notre Dame. I came in early as a senior. I came out early to Notre Dame, got in there in January, and tried to get a head start on my college career. There have been some ups and downs, a lot of lessons I've learned through that time. I overcame a lot of adversity during my past three years at Notre Dame. It's just been the greatest time of my life and I've learned some of the greatest experiences that I could. Just being away from my home and family in California has definitely changed me as a person."
Do you think you're ready to lead an NFL team?
"I think I'm ready. That's one of the reasons why I went to Notre Dame, to best replicate what it was going to be like playing big-time football in the NFL as a rookie. There's obviously been history shown that a lot of quarterbacks that come into their rookie season in the NFL have struggled. I kind of went through that at Notre Dame. I struggled my first year, got a little better my second year and made a drastic change my junior year in college."
Which teams have you met with so far?
"I met with the Redskins and the Bills last night."
Have you had any discussions with the St. Louis Rams?
"No, not yet."
What kind of feedback have you gotten about your injury?
"I went through that process yesterday and it took quite a bit of time. They said, 'It looks really good and it's healing.' They told me just to take my time and not push it too much."
Are you on schedule to work out in South Bend, Ind. the first week of April?
"Yeah, that's what I'm shooting for and that's when the doctor said I'll be ready. My scheduled date is April 9 at Notre Dame, to have my pro day."
How have you and Notre Dame WR Golden Tate grown together as people and players?
"Golden's a special kid. Obviously, you guys have seen the games and the tape. He makes plays every single time he gets on that field. When the lights come on, Golden's ready to play. Not speaking football, but just him as a person, he's a great person, a kid that loves to have fun. He came out to California with me this past summer, along with a few other teammates of mine, to just work out and just to be together and have more of a camaraderie between the guys on offense. My parents love him to death. He's the type of kid that loves talking to people and has a great personality. To be honest, we've grown so much from freshman season to sophomore season and to now. We're kind of like brothers now."
How do you react to people who doubt your abilities to be a leader?
"You know, to be honest, some of the people that say those things just don't know me as a person. A lot of people don't really know me as a person. That's why I was so excited to come here, talk to all the coaches and the GMs and owners – so they get a feel for me as a person. Being at Notre Dame, the quarterback and the head coach get all the credit when things go right and get a lot of blame when things go wrong. It's a tough situation being in a fishbowl at Notre Dame. Like I said, I was so excited to come out here and just to meet a bunch of the guys. I know a lot of the guys that are out here working out, just to meet those coaches and for them to get a feel for me as a person."
Do you feel capable of being the No. 1 overall pick and is that a goal?
"If that's the team that wants to pick me. I just want to go somewhere where they want me as a person and a player. To go to that organization and help them win games, that's all I'm about. I'm about going there and trying to make my team better. Whether it's being on the practice squad, helping the defense, whether it's being the starting quarterback - that's a coach's decision. My goal is just to go in, whoever drafts me, go in there and learn the playbook as quick as I can and get out there and do everything I can to help the team win."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter.