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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Clausen Wins His First Start for Tennessee

College football: Freshman from Alemany passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns in victory over Alabama.

October 22, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former Alemany High quarterback Casey Clausen made his first start for Tennessee on Saturday, and based on his performance, the position could be his for years.

Clausen, a 19-year-old freshman, completed 17 of 24 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee's 20-10 victory over Alabama before 107,709 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

He became the first Vol freshman to start at quarterback since Peyton Manning in 1994.

"This is the reason why I came to Tennessee," Clausen said. "I knew about the tradition after Coach [Phillip] Fulmer and [former quarterback] Heath Shuler spoke to us about it last Sunday."

Clausen repeatedly eluded tacklers to make clutch passes and demonstrated uncommon poise for someone who had played in only three previous college games. He completed a 44-yard pass on his first attempt.

"He was awesome," said former Alemany Coach Jim Bonds, who watched the game on television from his home in Valencia. "I'm really excited for him. Casey is a very focused person. He knows what he wants. He was obviously well prepared. He made great decisions with no turnovers."

Clausen's rapid rise up the depth chart vindicated his decision to graduate in January from Alemany so he could compete in spring practice.

He might have started earlier if not for tendinitis in his right shoulder that forced him to miss two weeks of fall practice.

Said Clausen: "On my first start, I just went out and concentrated on what we needed to do."

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