A young quarterback at a crossroads
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will, once again, take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2021 season.
#7 Brendon Clark, QB
A native of Midlothian, VA, Brendon Clark enrolled at Notre Dame in 2019 as the #21 pro-style QB and #521 overall quarterback recruit in the country. With Ian Book the incumbent starter and borderline-Messianic expectations being placed on Phil Jurkovec, Clark was thought of by most fans as more of a project player, a guy who might be able to compete for the job as a senior after the guys ahead of him had moved on.
Clark, however, had other ideas, and immediately began challenging Jurkovec for backup minutes behind Book. He even notched a touchdown pass in his very first game appearance against the New Mexico Lobos. Clark consistently earned high marks for his arm strength and physicality at 6’2”, as well as his toughness, confidence and eagerness to learn. In fact, while no one knows for sure, some have theorized that it was Clark as much as Book who ended up motivating Jurkovec’s eventual transfer in January 2020.
Having earned the backup role for the 2020 season, Clark looked to continue progressing behind Book with an eye on the starting role in 2021. However, a combination of COVID-19 (Clark was one of eight players held out against the South Florida Bulls due to exposure), and the Irish failing to blow out should-have-blown-them-out opponents kept him from getting on the field until the Oct. 24 matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers. Clark only attempted three passes and completed one in garbage-time minutes at Heinz Field, and that would turn out to be his only action of the season. A flareup of a high-school ACL injury caused Brian Kelly to shut him down for the rest of the season, ultimately requiring offseason surgery to repair and leaving Clark’s future position on the depth chart in question.
Across two seasons of intermittent blowout minutes, Clark has totaled two completions on four pass attempts for 29 yards and one touchdown.
The Restaurant That Fits
Clark is sporting a shorter haircut these days, but in 2020 season he was rocking a glorious mullet, leaving me no choice but to select this 1980s staple as his spirit restaurant.
At its peak, Ritzy’s had about 100 locations in the U.S. While they are much harder to find these days, there are only a handful of stores left still going strong and, like Clark’s glorious mane above, keeping an iconic ‘80s brand alive.
With his injury continuing to hold him out of practice, Clark is at a significant disadvantage in the current QB competition. Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan is the overwhelming favorite to open as the starter. Having been forced to cede valuable 2020 minutes to Drew Pyne and facing competition from the highly-touted freshman Tyler Buchner, the injured Clark will face an uphill climb to even regain his old backup role this season. If there’s an upside for Clark, though, it’s that he relishes competition and has thrived in such environments in the past. It’s a tough road back, but Clark is never to be counted out.
NM 7 | #7 ND 66
7:14 4Q | NBC pic.twitter.com/6FWbZ2hZXL
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 14, 2019