I've been on record several times over the past few years knocking Clausen. I've heard rumblings and grumblings about campus about his cocky attitude and sense of entitlement. I've even had my own less than impressive run-ins with him myself as recently as last season.
But I gotta admit, the kid is earning my respect this year.
He's clearly starting to learn what it is to be not just a leader on the football field, but slowly also learning to be a Notre Dame man on AND off the field.
Gone is the cockiness and bravado of a kid who hasn't proved anything, and it has been replaced by the quiet confidence, grit and determination of a leader.
And that, more than anything, is why I'm climbing onto the Clausen for Heisman bandwagon.
I posted last week that I thought his numbers should have placed him at the forefront of the QBs in consideration for the Heisman, but this week, hobbled by turf toe, he showed what we all look for in a Heisman quarterback - the ability to put his team on his back and pluck victory from the jaws of defeat. He limped out onto the field with 3 minutes left, and like Brady before him, the team KNEW it was going to find a way to win. And on the strong right arm of Jimmy Clausen, that's exactly what they did.
The season is still young, and Clausen will have plenty of opportunities to prove his mettle as a legitimate Heisman candidate. Perhaps he'll even have one of those classic TV moments in the ND/USC game. But I doubt any will be remembered as fondly in history as the final drive against Purdue late Saturday night - a drive that may not have just saved the season, but the program.
With a healthy toe and a healthy Armando Allen going into this weekend's tilt against Washington, a hot team which has surprised a lot of people (including the vaunted Trojans of USC), this may be the week where Clausen lights up the Huskies, and with them the hype for ND/USC going into the bye week.
Go Irish! Beat Huskies!