When Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen went to the podium at the Scouting Combine on Saturday to meet with the media, the questions about his maturity came up right away. That's what happens when you announce your college commitment after emerging from a stretch Hummer, get busted for transporting alcohol, and get a black eye in a fight. Clausen was ready for the questions, but was he too ready? I came away from the podium thinking that I had just heard the rough equivalent of coach-speak -- that nebulous, prefab stuff that emanates from the mouth of every coach and executive 99 percent of the time. Clasuen looked tight at the podium; almost as if he wanted more to prove that he wasn't a bad guy as opposed to just relaxing and letting his alleged newfound maturity shine through. It's tough to answer these questions, and he didn't display the edginess some expected, but few came away tremendously impressed.
"You know, to be honest, some of the people that say those things just don't know me as a person," he said. "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."
Problem is, when you're an NFL general manager, preparing to throw $30 million guaranteed at your next franchise quarterback, you're going to be less concerned with what you don't know than what has already happened.
"I've grown tremendously since I came into Notre Dame," Clauseon continued. "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."
But while Clausen is trying to prove that he isn't what we apparently think he is, Sam Bradford has been working out like a demon, gaining 15 pounds of muscle and beginning to put to rest all the concerns about his shoulder. And at the position where intangibles matter more than at any other, Clausen has to hope that it's not too late to turn his reputation around.