Clausen will throw for scouts in April

Updated: January 4, 2010, 9:42 PM ET
By Tom Friend | ESPN.com

Jimmy Clausen played his final 10 games at Notre Dame with torn ligaments in his right big toe and has told ESPN.com that he will undergo surgery Tuesday morning.

He is expected to be sidelined for two to three months, but intends to throw for pro scouts in early April. The operation will be performed by renowned foot specialist Mark Myerson in Baltimore.

"It's a testament to him that he played with this type of injury,'' Myerson said Monday. "How he managed is beyond me. I can only imagine what he'll be like when he's fixed.''

Clausen injured the foot against Michigan State on Sept. 19 when he was blitzed by Spartan linebacker Eric Gordon and ducked down on one knee. When Gordon then hit him, Clausen's toe was bent back at an awkward angle.

"I heard a pop,'' Clausen said. "I thought I broke it.''

At the time, Clausen had completed 50 of his first 70 passes on the season (71.4 percent), and he managed to finish the Michigan State game, going 22-of-31 for 300 yards in the 33-30 Irish victory.

The injury was diagnosed as turf toe, and Clausen missed a portion of the next game against Purdue. But he asked back into the game in the fourth quarter and tossed the game-winning touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph with 24 seconds left.

In the weeks that followed, head coach Charlie Weis would only let Clausen throw full speed on Thursdays, due to the lingering pain. By season's end, Clausen had finished second in the nation in passing efficiency with 28 touchdowns, only four interceptions and a 68.0 completion percentage.

Clausen hoped the pain was behind him when he resumed workouts in late December, but while throwing a deep pass to former Illinois receiver Arrelious Benn, the quarterback felt more aches. His agent, Gary Wichard, suggested he undergo an MRI, and the results revealed two torn ligaments in his right big toe -- the foot he plants with when he throws.

Dr. David Thordarson of the USC Medical Center suggested surgery to re-attach the ligaments, and when Clausen flew to Baltimore for a second opinion, Myerson agreed.

Although Clausen will be rehabbing during the upcoming NFL combine, one league executive claimed the injury makes Clausen even more appealing now.

"This will help him,'' the executive says. "The fact that he played through that just shows his toughness and love [for] the game, and more importantly, his commitment to his teammates.''

St. Louis and Washington -- two teams picking in the top 4 -- are known to be interested in Clausen. The draft will be held April 22-24.

Tom Friend is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.

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