January has been full of excellent news for Notre Dame on and off the field, but Tuesday the Irish received a dose of bad news when 5-star defensive end Stephon Tuitt decommitted from Notre Dame in favor of Georgia Tech.
Tuitt, a Georgia native, visited Georgia Tech over the weekend and after a few days of thought, he decided to decommit from Notre Dame and switch his commitment to Tech delivering a major blow to Notre Dame’s 2011 recruiting class in the process.
Tuitt had previously visiting Auburn as well but eliminated the Tigers shortly after the visit. He had previously taken almost half a dozen unofficial visits to Georgia Tech as well and had said that another school would need to blow him away to get him to reconsider. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, Georgia Tech was able to do just that this past weekend.
Without Tuitt, Notre Dame still has an impressive haul along the defensive line with Aaron Lynch, Chase Hounshell, Brad Carrico, and Tony Springmann. Tuitt, however, is the kind of elite talent Notre Dame has struggled to reel in for years. Even when the Irish have been able to secure commitments from recruits like Tuitt, or say Omar Hunter a few years ago, they have had a hard time holding on to them.
The lone exception over the last few years was Lynch, who enrolled at Notre Dame on Tuesday after decommiting from Notre Dame in November and then recommitting over the weekend.
Verbal commitments, as everyone well knows, are not binding and Brian Kelly and the Irish staff will almost certainly do their best to bring Tuitt back into the fold by Signing Day. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, however, Tuitt does not plan on speaking to coaches from any other teams now that he is committed to Georgia Tech.
Look for Notre Dame to make a hard push for Troy Niklas if they are unable flip Tuitt back to Notre Dame the way they were able to flip Lynch back last week. Niklas is a similar recruit to Chase Hounshell – a versatile lineman who could play along the offensive or defensive line. He will visit Notre Dame on January 28.
With only a handful of scholarships left in this year’s class look for the Irish staff to also burn up the phone lines shoring up the commitments from the 17 recruits who are still committed and did not enroll early on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s news was certainly a blow for Notre Dame’s recruiting class, but it appears as though the Irish staff was well prepared for the possibility of losing Tuitt with four other defensive ends committed and other options they are still pursuing – a welcomed change from years past when Notre Dame was left high and dry when recruits have made last minute decommitments.