Notre Dame reserve QB Clark hits the transfer portal

Eric Hansen
ND Insider
Notre Dame quarterback Brendon Clark (7) runs the ball during Notre Dame's 66-14 rout of New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, at Notre Dame Stadium.

SOUTH BEND — Roughly a year after Brendon Clark situated himself as an arguable favorite to emerge as Notre Dame football’s 2021 starting quarterback, the now fourth-stringer is opting to start over again elsewhere.

On Tuesday, less than a week before the No. 13 Irish (5-1) host USC (3-3) Saturday night at Notre Dame Stadium, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior tweeted out that he has entered his name in the transfer portal.

“I am looking forward to this new journey,” Clark tweeted, “but I will always appreciate my time here in South Bend.”

With a redshirt season and COVID exemption year preceding this season, Clark could have as many as three years of eligibility remaining at his new school.

In a season in which Notre Dame has played three quarterbacks in high-leverage situations over the first half of the season, Clark became the “what if” storyline.

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His last game played in an Irish uniform came Oct. 24, 2020, in a 45-3 Notre Dame road romp over Pittsburgh. He completed one of three passes for seven yards in that game and ran the ball once for a four-yard loss in relief of starter Ian Book.

His only other completion came his freshman season against New Mexico, a 22-yard TD toss to Braden Lenzy on his first collegiate pass attempt. He had two other cameos that season and finished with 33 rushing yards on five carries.

Shortly after the Pitt game in 2020, though, Clark’s right knee began to give him trouble. It’s the same knee he underwent surgery on as a high school freshman for an ACL tear.

Clark fully recovered, led his Manchester High team to a 15-0 record and the Class 6A Virginia state championship as as senior in 2018. He signed with ND in that December after decommitting from Wake Forest.

Two Decembers later, the right knee required surgery again. This time the rehab was protracted, prompting Clark to miss last spring’s practices and becoming a non-factor in a three-man quarterback competition through fall camp.

The Midlothian, Va., product didn’t approach 100 percent health until last month, when he was already buried on the depth chart. Had Clark remained healthy throughout 2020, there’s a chance Notre Dame wouldn’t have gone fishing for Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan in the portal after the season ended Jan. 1 in a College Football Playoff loss to Alabama.

Coan, Kelly confirmed Monday, will make his seventh straight start this season, Saturday night against the Trojans as Notre Dame looks for its fourth consecutive win in the series. The Irish haven’t done that since stringing together 11 straight series wins in a streak that started during the Gerry Faust Era (1983).

Freshman Tyler Buchner is expected to tag-team at QB at some point in Saturday night's game, with sophomore Drew Pyne the third option. Freshman Ron Powlus III is the other scholarship QB on the Irish roster.

Notre Dame holds a verbal commitment from Steve Angeli of Bergen (N.J.) Catholic in the 2022 class. The Irish are open to signing a second QB in that class, and 247Sports is reporting five-star LSU commit Walker Howard is expected to take a recruiting visit to ND this weekend.  

Follow ND Insider Eric Hansen on Twitter: @EHansenNDI