Clapp talks commitment, 'Notre Dame is a special place'

August 27, 2020

The 5 a.m. wakeup calls never bothered Cooper Clapp.

It just was time to go to work with his dad.

That just so happened to be a day at the ballpark.

“Probably my earliest memory is going to the field with my dad at the Houston Astros spring training complex,” said Clapp, a recent Notre Dame baseball commitment and son of current St. Louis Cardinals first base coach Stubby Clapp. “Just going every day, waking up at 5 in the morning and going with him.

“One of the first teams my dad coached was the Lexington Legends for the Astros (Class A affiliate). He had JD Martinez and Jose Altuve. I remember being around those guys and hanging out with them in the clubhouse. I remember when Jose Altuve gave me one of his bats after his last game at Lexington when he got called up to the next level.”

Though his 2020 high school season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clapp, a gifted defensive shortstop, already had emerged as a next-level player. He had drawn interest from Arkansas, Clemson, Texas, Missouri and Troy, the latter two extending offers, before Clapp committed to the Fighting Irish and second-year coach Link Jarrett shortly after his late-July unofficial visit to campus.

“I just called them on the phone and they walked me through some of the places to see,” Clapp said of his Notre Dame visit. “It was all breathtaking, kind of just swept me off my feet. I loved the campus, the baseball stadium and the football stadium was extremely nice. I loved the Golden Dome and the Grotto.

“Those are some of the places that I visited. The whole campus was gorgeous. It was pretty empty when I went, but I can just imagine how insane it would be on a football gameday or during school. The reason I chose Notre Dame is just an opportunity I didn’t want to let pass up. Nothing is going to beat it, academic- and baseball-wise. Notre Dame’s something special, and I didn’t want to pass it up.”

Clapp, who played in both Prep Baseball Report and Perfect Game showcase tournaments this summer with his travel baseball team, also instantly connected in the recruiting process with the Notre Dame staff.

“Coach (Rich) Wallace told me that I’m a part of the future and what he really likes about me is the way I play the game,” said Clapp, who in his freshman season at Hardin County High School (Tennessee) hit .361 and scored 28 runs. “He said I play the game like my dad (whose jersey number was retired by the Triple A Memphis Redbirds). He said they liked the way that I understood the game and my baseball IQ, the way I can control the game from shortstop, which is a leadership position in baseball, and loved the way I handle the bat and how solid I am on defense.”

A left-handed hitter whose right-handed throws were clocked at 80mph before Clapp recently began his junior year of high school, Clapp also emphasized the prospect now committed to Notre Dame won’t be the same player who arrives in South Bend in two years.

“I feel like since they recruited me that who I am now is not going to be same player when I get there,” Clapp said. “I’m going to keep working hard and hope that I step on that campus on a completely different level than when they recruited me. Coach Jarrett just made me understand it’s not over since I made my commitment, and now I’m going to work my tail off to be the best player I can be when I step on campus at Notre Dame.”

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