Jordan Clark didn’t lack quality feedback on Notre Dame when he entered the Transfer Portal following the 2023 season.
The 5-foot-10, 179-pounder was able to pick the minds of several current and former players about the program to educate himself on the good, bad, and everything else Notre Dame.
It started with Notre Dame cornerback Ben Morrison and linebacker Jaiden Ausberry as Clark chose the Irish over Florida State, Iowa State and Oregon.
“I’ve known Ben since I was in preschool,” stated Clark.”Whenever I was getting ready to come out here, I reached out to those guys because they’re going to keep it real. They know what it’s really like to be here, and they both just spoke so highly of their experiences. Not just from the football side of it, but being on campus, meeting people, making friends and everything South Bend has to offer. It’s something I definitely wanted to be a part of.”
Clark also was able to get more perspective from his former Arizona State teammate, Drew Pyne. The two became good friends in Tempe and have reunited in South Bend this semester.
“Having him back here now with me is really cool,” Clark explained. “He’s like my South Bend tour guide. He loves it here. I think whenever you speak to people here, they think highly of him as well.
“All he told was if I was a guy of high character, I’d fit right in. It’s not necessarily how good of a player you are or anything like that. It’s about how you approach what you do, are you a professional and do you want to win? If you want to do those things, then this community will accept you with open arms and I feel that.”
Another selling point for Clark was seeing what Thomas Harper did at the position last year as he was in a similar position being a graduate transfer.
Clark was able to see how Notre Dame utilized Harper in the nickel, but also how quickly he was able to pick up the NFL-style defense.
What will Clark bring to the position? Reckless abandonment.
“To play nickel, you have to have it,” said Clark. “Very often, nickels aren’t the biggest people on the field, which are expected to fill the Sam linebacker role. You have to force, you have to box the ball back in, you have to get off blocks and destroy screens. I think the way that (Harper) plays the game is so admirable. I think it’s how you should play.”
Clark will also enter this spring healthy as he battled an injury for most of his final season at Arizona State.
“I had a really bad quad contusion and it swelled up,” “I had to get 300 CCs of blood drawn out of my leg towards the end of the year. It was a nagging thing for sure. I wasn’t really healthy for the majority of the year, but ultimately, I think if you can play, you should play.
“I was able to make it happen. It’s not an excuse for anything, but I wasn’t healthy for a majority of last year. I’m excited to be healthy this year.”
The mindset is one that’s not only welcome at Notre Dame, but embraced. The gritty and tough attitude is what Marcus Freeman wants his program built on, so it’s easy to see why Clark was a top target when looking for a nickel.
“This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life and I think having an opportunity to do it, I don’t want to waste any games,” Clark explained of why he played hurt. “I don’t want to waste any opportunities I have to go out there and play, especially with my brothers. There were guys on that team that I was never going to play with again, so if I can play, I’m always going to play. I’m going to compete.
“I’m delusional, honestly. I think whether I’m 40%, 30%, I’m going to win.”
Clark has also started to see the benefits of the advantages of Notre Dame, including its nutrition program.
Notre Dame might not have the in-house kitchen or some programs, but Associate Director of Sports Nutrition, Alexa Appleman, and Director of Football Performance Loren Landow have that side of The Gug rolling.
“I think that the nutrition here is second to none,” Clark stated. “I think when you see our linemen group, we’ve got some big boys. I think that Coach Landow is an excellent strength and conditioning coach; just the things and growth I’ve seen in the little while that I’ve been here.
“It’s Notre Dame, we have access to literally everything. Anything you need, you can get here. Just to have that accessibility, to have that kind of wiggle room to get what you need at any given time is a blessing.”
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