SOUTH BEND — Jimmy Clausen's twisted journey toward NFL Draft Day hit a new low recently. No, not a setback from January toe surgery. It was more cerebral. Kind of. A representative from an NFL team actually asked the convalescing former Notre Dame quarterback that if he could be a tree, what kind of tree would he be? "I said an oak," Clausen related with a wide grin Tuesday, after spending 2½ hours as a bystander while 14 of his former teammates auditioned for NFL scouts at Notre Dame's Pro Day at the Loftus Center. And for the record Clausen picked "dog" when given the either/or option between canine and cat. "It's pretty funny," he said. "They just want to get to know you, your personality." Until Clausen throws for scouts in his own private Pro Day on April 9 at Loftus, that's all they really have to go on — Clausen answering questions with his mouth and not his arm. The three-day, seven-round draft kicks off April 22, which is the day Clausen is expected to come off the board. Early. "It ranges," Clausen said of the constant barrage of questions, some of them not-so-nonsensical. "(Things like) why I came to Notre Dame, my leadership ability, some of the off-the-field things." Clausen made a pretty solid statement about what kind of teammate he is Tuesday, though. His only reason for flying in from California, where he's been working out, was to support the guys he has played with for the past three years as they chased their NFL dreams. Clausen's own pre-draft prep took a wide left turn in late December, when foot specialist Dr. Mark Myerson looked at the same MRIs that Notre Dame's doctors had deciphered as a turf toe injury three months earlier and saw something quite different. Clausen suffered the injury in game 3 of the 2009 season, an eventual 33-30 win over Michigan State. The junior played through pain the rest of the season, but did not miss a full game along the way. Myerson's take was that Clausen actually played the balance of the 2009 season with two torn tendons in his foot, the damage so severe that the sesamoid bones moved a centimeter and had to be reattached with a pin. "It was pretty intense surgery," Clausen said. "The doctor said I should have had it done the next day (after the injury). Knowing that, I wouldn't be in this position right now, but it's hard to think about that. "To be honest, it's whatever it is. I'm in a great situation right now. If I had known I had two torn tendons, I probably would have had the surgery (in September). Obviously, if I didn't play the season, I would have been coming back (to Notre Dame) next year." Instead, he'll fly back to California Wednesday and continue to work out in anticipation of April 9. "(Monday) was the first day I was able to run since the surgery," said Clausen, who spent some extensive time after the Pro Day with scouts from Washington and San Francisco. "I just ran around the track a little bit. After two (400-meter) laps, I was pretty winded. It felt good. It's not as strong as I want it, coming off of surgery, but it's getting there." The arm is already there. So is the physique. The 6-foot-3 Clausen has been able to put on 17 pounds of muscle after finishing the season at 205. He'll continue throwing with some high school receivers back in California and draft workout mates Taylor Mays and Everson Griffen, a safety and a defensive end, respectively, from USC. "He's got good hands for a defensive lineman," Clausen said almost straight-faced of 6-3, 278-pound Griffen. "He thinks he is a receiver." Clausen will throw to real receivers and Irish draft hopefuls Golden Tate and Robby Parris on April 9, along with running back James Aldridge and wideout David Grimes from the 2008 team. Grimes went undrafted last spring and didn't find a permanent home on an NFL roster last season as a rookie free agent. Tate, one of four Irish players who participated in the physical testing at last month's invite-only NFL Combine, only ran the 60-yard shuttle and participated in position-specific drills. The probable late-first/early-second-round draft choice will defer to his combine numbers for vertical jump, 40-yard dash, etc. He did unveil some snazzy gold-colored shoes, though, on Tuesday. "I figured it would be a good hit for me," Tate said. "Golden shoes. Golden Tate. I like 'em." Safety Kyle McCarthy had to like the improvement on his 40 time from the combine. He lowered his 4.65 clocking significantly with runs of 4.55 and 4.56 seconds on Tuesday. Safety Sergio Brown and wide receiver Parris had two of the stronger performances among the Irish players who weren't invited to the combine. Roughly 40 of ND's returning players — including quarterback Dayne Crist, linebacker Manti Te'o and running back Armando Allen — watched the proceedings with the scouts and Clausen. "I want to support these guys and be here for them," Clausen said. "It was their day today, and I'm really happy for those guys."