January 5, 2014 // Notre Dame Football

Stephon Tuitt Heading to NFL

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Stephon Tuitt - Notre Dame DE

Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive end Stephon Tuitt (7) celebrates after sacking Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Chas Dodd (19) in the fourth quarter of the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame won 29-16. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

2014 isn’t starting off any better than 2013 did for Notre Dame with junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt telling Sports Illustrated on Sunday that he is declaring for the NFL Draft and forging his senior season at Notre Dame.

Since the 2013 season ended, Tuitt had said that he was 50/50 on returning to Notre Dame for a senior season or leaving a year early for the NFL.  In December Tuitt reportedly received a 2nd round draft evaluation from the NFL Advisory Committee, but that was apparently not enough to entice Tuitt back to South Bend for a senior season.

According to SI’s Brian Hamilton who broke the news, Tuitt feels ready for the NFL challenge

Over the last few years Brian Kelly has done an outstanding job getting some elite players to return for their senior seasons such as Manti Te’o, Michael Floyd, and Tyler Eifert; but this time Kelly wasn’t able to work the same magic.

With Tuitt leaving for the NFL, Notre Dame’s depth along the defensive line takes a major hit with fellow linemate Louis Nix also heading to the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining.  Nix, however, is leaving after his senior season after redshirting as a true freshmen.  Jarron Jones began to emerge for Notre Dame down the stretch with Nix injured and Notre Dame will have Tony Springmann and Chase Hounshell back from injury, but losing two All-American talents at the same time is a lot to handle.

While Tuitt received a 2nd round grade from the NFL Advisory Committee, he is still projected as a first round pick in most mock drafts and has something that just can’t be taught or coached – size and speed – making him a hot commodity in the NFL.   Part of the reason for the low grade from the Advisory Committee is likely from the drop off in production that Tuitt saw in 2013 as he recovered from off-season surgery and played without Nix next to him occupying blockers and letting him wreak havoc as he did in 2012.  All it will likely take for Tuitt to land int he first round, however, is for one GM or coach to put in Tuitt’s tape and fall in love when they see him race down the field on his fumble return against Navy.

With Tuitt and Nix in the draft, Notre Dame has three potential first round picks with the defensive line duo joining Zack Martin who many are projecting as a potential first round pick as well.  Should the trio all end up getting draft int he first round, it would be the first time Notre Dame had three first round picks since the 1994 Draft when Aaron Taylor, Bryant Young, and Jeff Buris all went in the first round.  Just two years ago Notre Dame did have two first round picks though with Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd being selected by the Vikings and Cardinals in the first round.

Comments to this Article

  • Irishchan commented on January 5th, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    I was expecting this to come. This is when those last minute commitments that change their minds hurt us badly. Vanderdose would have lessened the blow by loosing both Nix & tuitt. Jones and day best hit it hard this off season. They are going to have to anchor this front seven.

    I’m really interested in this d-Cordinator….is it official yet?

    [Reply]

  • C-Dog commented on January 6th, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    All the best to Stephon Tuitt. Hopefully he gets on a team doesn’t jeapordize his health by immersing him too soon. He is fun to watch and it would be great to see him have a career similar to Justin Tuck in terms of both success and length.

    This will force the coaching staff to insert younger players earlier and they will need to manage the schedule next year. Any game that offers the ability to insert younger players with potential should not be wasted.

    [Reply]

  • duranko commented on January 6th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Thank you, Stephon! And best of luck in the National Football League.

    This is a necessary rite of passage for the Notre Dame Football program.
    If you want to compete at the top echelon of college football, then you must recruit and develop athletes who are first round type picks after their third year on campus.

    Sure, we do not recruit them on that expectation, but if they’re good enough to be ready, they should go.

    While I may be in a minority here, I hope we have one or more each year who are leaving after their third year on campus. It would be a signal that we have arrived.

    Notre Dame will not compromise its comfort (VALUES) zone on insisting on academic
    performance and RKG’s. But all Notre Dame constituencies, staff, admin and alumni, need to get out of the comfort zone of keeping players around for the fourth year in every case.

    [Reply]

    Michael the Archangel replied on January 6th, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Stephon appears ready to move on. What’s gained is the certainty of economic security a top-tier drafted player like Stephon will receive. What’s lost is your last year of being a college student-athlete at a premier university. I’ll be surprised if he’s around for very long come draft day. Two key positions to fill on the OL and now DL next year; and with graduating both MLB’s, (and the difficult road back for Grace)it’s critical for “next-men-in” to rise to the occasion. Get that degree soon, Stephon, and enjoy a long productive career in the NFL. Like duranko wrote, players leaving early is indeed a sign our recruits are top quality. AND also being developed, I might add.

    [Reply]

    duranko replied on January 10th, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Well, with Niklas going that is the second “three and out” player. For my own opinion
    the Atkinson situation was either compromised or complicated or com-something.

    Again, this three and out stuff is what the big guys are doing. It’s nice to see that we are recruiting and then developing the talent
    that can attract pro interest
    after the third year on campus.

    What is intriguing about Niklas is that the staff can now sell the following: not only will you get a chance for pro football if merited, but we will get you in the right position and develop you to align with your maxium pro potential.

    Well, if you want to run with the big dogs.

    Maybe its only me, but I hope we have two three and outs next winter also.

    It’s a trailing indicator of program success.

    [Reply]

  • Ron commented on January 6th, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Stephanie Tuitt was never an ND guy. Neither is Kelly. If we have to sleep with the enemy, can’t we at least win???

    [Reply]

    Ron Burgundy replied on January 7th, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Tell me about it, who needs All American defensive ends.

    [Reply]

    Shazamrock replied on January 7th, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Sleep with the enemy???

    He once paid a hobo to spoon with him!

    [Reply]

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