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SOUTH BEND, Ind. • Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson knew about Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer long before he burst onto the scene with a 39-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 12 seconds left against Virginia.
Clawson was head coach at Bowling Green from 2009 to 2013 and recruited Kizer following his sophomore season at Toledo Catholic Central High. Kizer was interested because his father, Derek, played basketball for the Falcons and he wanted to play more than one sport at Bowling Green.
Clawson, now in his second year at Wake Forest (3-6), said he knew bigger schools would be after Kizer.
"We knew it was a long shot that we were going to get him but knew whoever he ended up signing with was getting an outstanding football player, a great competitor, but also a really mature and humble young man," he said. "I'm not surprised at all that he's done as well as he has."
The same can't be said for Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who said this week as the sixth-ranked Irish (8-1, No. 4 CFP) were preparing to face Wake Forest that he wasn't thinking about whether Kizer, who was third on Notre Dame's depth chart in the spring, could guide the Irish to a national championship when he was thrust into the starter's job in September.
"I think when we put him in the game we were just hoping that he knew the play," Kelly said. "Now we're at a point where it's, what is the new play we put in? So I think we're clearly impressed with what he's been able to accomplish."
Kizer has a pass-efficiency rating of 160.5 that places him 16th in the nation and third on Notre Dame's all-time list, just behind the 161.4 rating of Bob Williams in 1949 and matched by Jimmy Clausen in 2009.
Kizer's 16 touchdown passes is one shy of placing him in the top 10 for a season at Notre Dame. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound sophomore said he's unaware of where he stands statistically.
"I couldn't tell you how many touchdowns I even have on the season. I have no idea where I'm at. I know that as long as we continue to put up points on Saturdays and win games that hopefully it will be pretty good at the end of the season," he said.
Clawson said he's happy to see Kizer's success.
"He's an easy guy to root for. But obviously we won't be rooting for him this weekend," he said.
Other things to know about the Wake Forest-Notre Dame game:
EXPLOSIVE PLAYS: The defenses for Notre Dame and Wake Forest have been susceptible to big plays. The Irish defense has given up 17 plays of 35 yards or more while the Demon Deacons have surrendered 13. Notre Dame has the advantage offensively with 19 plays of 35 yards or more while the Demon Deacons have eight. "We have to limit their explosive plays because they have explosive playmakers," Clawson said.
TWO QUARTERBACKS: Clawson said he's eager to name either John Wolford or Kendall Hinton as the No. 1 quarterback, but said neither has won the job yet. "There's no reason to arbitrarily make a decision for the convenience of making it. Both these young men deserve to play," he said.
FRESHMAN RUNNER: Josh Adams rushed for 147 yards on 20 carries against Pittsburgh last week, a yard shy of the Notre Dame freshman record. He also rushed for 133 yards against Massachusetts and has run 412 yards on the season. Adams needs 121 yards to move into the top five for Irish freshmen and is expected to get carries against Wake Forest with C.J. Prosise questionable with a concussion.
SUSPENSION: Clawson has suspended defensive tackle Josh Banks for the final three games for violating unspecified team rules. Banks was eighth on the team with 24 tackles.
SNAPCHAT CELEBRATION: Notre Dame players have been saying they are not paying attention to the College Football Playoff rankings, but defensive tackle Sheldon Day admitted there was a brief celebration when the Irish saw they were ranked fourth. He said it didn't last long. "Ten seconds of Snapchat video," he said.