Will Clausen End Up Destroying Charlie Weis?

Everyone knows about uber-recruit Jimmy Clausen, formerly of Oaks Christian High outside of Los Angeles.

He was labeled by many internet recruiting gurus as the ‘Lebron James of Football’ before his senior year of high school had even begun.

Well, he is now at Notre Dame after enrolling early for spring ball. He is the most high-profile recruit to sign with the Irish since Ron Powlus in 1993.

Clausen was slated to step in for Brady Quinn and keep the Irish quarterback mystique–and the team’s fortunes–alive.

Now, though, it appears as if Clausen may be damaged goods. He had surgery on his right throwing elbow and barely did much of anything in spring ball. Things are very quiet around Notre Dame regarding Clausen, whose hype has diminished considerably as a result.

So now the big issue with Notre Dame is the future. Charlie Weis could have signed Mitch Mustain in 2006 out of Arkansas, but Clausen let it be known to Weis that if Mustain signed with the Irish, he would not be coming.

So, Weis passed on Mustain and left the slot open for Clausen. The idea was that Clausen was so good, he was worth waiting for.

Mustain, meanwhile, went 8-0 as a starter for Arkansas before transferring to USC.

In the meantime, Notre Dame has seen the writing on the wall regarding Clausen and has secured a commitment from another quarterback from the San Fernando Valley, Notre Dame High signal caller Dayne Crist, who is highly-regarded and could very well be the quarterback of the future.

His commitment to the Irish signals that Weis is probably a bit worried about the future of his star recruit.

If Clausen ends up redshirting this season, it could be a long year for the Irish. Then he will have to compete with Crist and this year’s starter for the job the following season. What once looked like a slam-dunk quarterback situation for Weis has quite possibly turned into a mess.

No matter what, it takes at least a couple years for a quarterback to mature into a good player. If Clausen redshirts and gets healthy, we are talking 2009–at best–before Weis can have a high-powered passing attack at his disposal, unless Evan Sharpley turns out to be better than expected.

If Weis hadn’t kowtowed to Clausen in the first place, Mustain might be heading into his sophomore season in Blue and Gold, with the benefit of having learned under Brady Quinn. There’s no doubt he’d be the starter and a budding star under Weis’ tutelage.

And let’s not forget that if Clausen had divulged that he was damaged goods a bit earlier, Weis may not have mortgaged his program’s future by signing the star quarterback.

Instead, with 2007 looking like a rebuilding year, Weis could be lucky to be around when 2009 or 2010 hits.

He might have left the Irish in the lurch

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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