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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Brendon Clark Makes Mom Proud On & Off Field

December 25, 2018

Brendon Clark‍ has been through ups and downs on the gridiron.

As a freshman, the Virginia native earned the starting quarterback job for the Manchester High School program he was a ball boy for at the age of five. But in the fourth game, his season ended when he tore his ACL.

“It was devastating at the time, getting him in the car,” says his mother, Sandi Clark, remembering how emotional her son was in the immediate aftermath.

“I was saying, ‘Does it hurt that bad?’ And he said, ‘No, I just want to play.’”

Clark played flag football at the age of six, but really got into the game with tackle football a few years later.

“When he was younger, the goal was really NFL,” his mom says. “‘I’m going to be an NFL quarterback one day.’ I think as he got older, he realized, ‘OK, before I do that, I’m going to play in college.’ It’s always been a dream of his.”

But even before college, he would enjoy an extremely successful youth and high school career despite adversity.

“It’s just been an amazing journey to watch over the years,” Mrs. Clark says. “He’s had his times of struggles. When he first started, he was second team and had to work his way up and earn a starting spot.

“He’s had his share of injuries with broken fingers and a broken arm and the torn ACL.”

As difficult as it was at the time, the injury made Clark stronger literally and figuratively.

“He learned a lot in that eight months because it’s a slower rehab,” his mom says. “But technology nowadays is amazing. The doctors and staff were amazing. They take the patellar tendon and recreate the ACL and say that’s even stronger than a normal ACL.

“After going through all of the rehab. I think as a sophomore, he wore a brace the whole year and then his junior year, he was cut free from the brace and was stronger and better than before. It taught him not to give up, perseverance and hard work pays off for sure.”

That work did pay off and before his junior season, the rewards would come in the form of college scholarship offers.

Clark entered the recruiting process not really knowing what to expect, but enjoyed it. He committed to Wake Forest the summer before his junior season.

“He liked the campus, liked the school and the coaches,” Mrs. Clark explains. “At that time, he thought that was where he was supposed to be.

“But after he got more opportunities, he went to the Elite 11 out in L.A., and having some bigger schools notice him, it kind of opened his eyes up to different opportunities that were out there. That was when he was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got more choices here. I’ve got more options.’”

He backed off that verbal pledge and took some visits this past June. His trip to Notre Dame confirmed his decision to reopen the process was the correct one.

“It opened up a whole new world for us, really,” Clark’s mother recalls.

He’d end up announcing his commitment to the Irish on the Fourth of July and made it official by signing with Notre Dame last week.

It’s not a coincidence that Clark went from a Wake Forest pledge to a Notre Dame signee given the schools’ similarities.

“They have that feel about them,” Mrs. Clark says. “They’re smaller student body sizes. When we visited Notre Dame in the summer, I didn’t realize it was only 8,500 students. Wake is about 5 or 6,000. He likes the smaller classroom environment, more of the family feel. That’s really what attracted him the most. He visited some of the best schools like Georgia and Clemson, which is a lot bigger.

“While they’re nice campuses, I don’t think he had the connection to feel like he did at Notre Dame.”

Mrs. Clark says she “loves” watching her son play football, but there’s more to him than just his skills as a player.

“As a parent, that’s been a rewarding thing,” she says. “As a rambunctious little kid always on the go to seeing how he’s handling himself over the years. They just won our 6A state championship and with a lot of recognition and publicity that gets, just seeing him stay level-headed and being humble.”

She’s just as proud to hear about him standing out in the classroom as on the football field.

“Some of the feedback that we get from other parents and from teachers, talking about what a well-mannered young man he is with a good head on his shoulders,” she says.

For his Notre Dame application, one of his teachers commented on how he is always sure to include others.

“If he sees other kids sitting by themselves, he invites them over and wants to include everybody,” Mrs. Clark says of the teacher’s notes.

“That’s made me just as proud as a mom. He’s gifted athletically, but he’s a good, caring human being who has a lot of leadership potential.”

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