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Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Claypool: Notre Dame's Mr. November

November 16, 2019

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Chase Claypool had to be nudged to reveal that, in fact, a four-touchdown performance wasn’t an entirely new experience for the Notre Dame wideout.

Then, Notre Dame’s Mr. November smiled.

Yes, Claypool actually had scored four touchdowns before in a game --- though not all four through the air, as was the case Saturday afternoon in Claypool’s Notre Dame record-tying four-touchdown explosion in a 52-20 Irish win against Navy.

“I haven’t caught four touchdown passes; I had 10 one time,” said Claypool, the Abbotsford, British Columbia, native. “That was a while back.”

And then, on his way breaking free of media responsibilities beneath Notre Dame Stadium after his seven-catch, 117-yard and four-score evisceration of the Midshipmen defense, Claypool added an important caveat:

“Eighth grade,” he said, “so not that cool.”

Nothing about the Irish in November is cool, and Claypool, alongside quarterback Ian Bank, stands front-and-center for a Notre Dame team that’s won each of its three games since an embarrassing loss last month at Michigan --- the last two by a combined 90-23 margin.

After working in concert with Book to will the Irish past Virginia Tech, 21-20, on a final-minute touchdown drive twice kept alive by Claypool’s monster catches to open the month, Claypool now owns 20 receptions, 332 yards and five touchdowns in No. 16 Notre Dame’s three-game winning streak.

More than half of his touchdowns (nine) and 20 of his team-high 49 receptions have come in the past three weeks.

“I think trust is a big thing,” Claypool said. “I think (Book) fully trusts me now. Not that he didn't before, but he knows exactly where to put the ball and chemistry, like I said. Yeah, he's allowing me to -- he's throwing the ball up and giving me a chance to make a play.

“I'm happy that I'm able to make some plays for him just to build that trust a little more.”

That trust was on full display, manifesting itself on Claypool’s career-best 47-yard scoring spree through the guts of the Navy secondary that helped Notre Dame eventually take a 38-0 first-half lead against No. 23 Navy.

There was a mismatch at the line of scrimmage; Claypool saw it. So, too, did Book.

“Yeah, we knew it was a mismatch or a miscommunication of some sort because we hadn't seen that on film ever, and it hasn't ever happened this year, I don't think,” Claypool said of finding himself lined up opposite a linebacker. “I think Ian knew it right away; I knew it right away.

“I was running down the field with a big smile on my face before the ball was even thrown.”

All the Irish eyes were smiling after this game. Even coach Brian Kelly jabbed at Claypool’s improbable previous exploits.

“t wouldn't surprise me,” Kelly said when told of Claypool’s 10-score day. “No disrespect to the level of football that he played, but the level of football he played may be one that when I watched film, we needed to go up there and watch him play basketball, too.

“Then I watched the basketball, and that didn't do much for me either.”

And, yet, now four years later, here’s Claypool. Doing pretty much everything for the Notre Dame offense.

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