The Pittsburgh Steelers second round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft has been made and it’s Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt.
Report via Dave-Te’ Thomas
STEPHON JAKIEL TUITT
University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Monroe Area High School
A classic overachiever, discipline has been instilled in his character by his mother, Tamara Tuitt-Bartlett, who serves as a deputy sheriff back home in Monroe. While Stephon was a freshman in high school, he once walked ten miles to a workout session after his mother refused to let him attend, but the player felt he had a commitment to his team and made the “most of a bad situation,” after his coaches had explained to him he had to attend as a requirement to make the team.
That discipline and work ethic allowed her son to mature quickly, both on and off the football field. Well-respected in the local room, the quiet leader had to become more vocal on the gridiron this year, thanks to a departing graduation class from last season that saw quite a few first-time starters appear for the Irish on the defensive side of the ball in 2013.
Injuries also played a major factor in the Irish failing in their quest to get back to the BCA Championship Game. The team suffered a huge loss when Tuitt’s line-mate on the front wall, nose guard Louis Nix III missed five of the team’s final six games after he underwent knee surgery. Tuitt himself was not 100% last season, but felt that he needed to be on the field and mentor the large amount of replacement players, despite still struggling during the early schedule from off-season hernia surgery.
Through Notre Dame’s first three games, all Tuitt had to show for a trio of starting assignments was four tackles combined. Before the surgery, he was averaging 3.5 tackles per game during his first two seasons at the school. The left defensive end refused to use the surgery as an excuse for his minimal contribution, but the coaching staff preached patience as their junior star rounded into shape, and he would reward them late in the season when other starters were sidelined.
“The surgery that he had has affected his back, it’s affected his hip flexors,” head coach Brian Kelly told reporters during his weekly teleconference in early October. “Some people dismiss it and say, ‘You just had minor surgery.’ It’s affected a lot of things. This is a big man, and he’s really struggled … with back tightness. He missed a day of practice [last week] because his back locked up.”
Tuitt had a big sophomore campaign in 2012. He led the Irish with twelve sacks, the second-most in a season by an Irish defender. He also added 47 tackles (24 solos), three forced fumbles, nine quarterback pressures and a blocked kick. But his production dropped off in the second half of the season, when he had only 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in the final six games, partly as a result of the hernia injury that required the offseason surgery.
Shortly after his coaches October 2013 press conference, Tuitt played well in an upset victory over Michigan State, with six tackles and a key fourth-quarter sack. For the season, though, he had yet to reach the quarterback. Before the season, Tuitt told reporters he was in good shape, had added weight and was ready for a big junior season. But the added weight and slow recovery from surgery seemed to have cut down on his quickness.
The second half of the schedule, when Nix was sidelined, was a complete reversal from the first half for Tuitt. He recorded 23 tackles with 2.5 sacks and five stops for loss in his last five appearances. Those numbers would see him close out what would be his final season at Notre Dame with a career-high 50 tackles, ranking sixth on the team. He also posted 7.5 sacks, nine stops behind the line of scrimmage and thirteen QB pressures.
Tuitt was rated 38th nationally on Sports Illustrated list of top players during his senior season at Monroe Area High School and received Georgia Class 3A all-state first-team honors from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2010. He was one of four Georgia players to be named to all-Southern team by the Orlando Sentinel, as a defensive end, but also performed at tight end.
Tuitt led Monroe High to an 11-2 record and a third-round appearance in the Georgia Class AAA state playoffs during his senior season, after the team had finished a combined 0-20 the previous two seasons. He received first-team all-Georgia Region 8-AAA accolades after he posted 56 tackles, 24 stops-for-loss, ten sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered. He closed out his career by playing in U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and in the Team USA vs. The World All-Star Game in Austin, Texas.
As a freshman at Notre Dame, Tuitt appeared in nine games, but forced his way into the starting lineup for three contests. Called by the coaching staff their “six-star recruit,” the massive playmaker’s eventually convinced his coaches what he could do on the field. That brief audition produced thirty tackles with a pair of sacks and five QB pressures. It would also earn him a starting job during his next two seasons, spanning 26 consecutive contests.
On January 5th, 2014, one week after Notre Dame defeated Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl, Tuitt announced he would forego his remaining eligibility and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. He spent the next month shedding some weight, arriving at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine close to his sophomore weight of 304 pounds. As a junior, he had played at 328 pounds, thanks to limited opportunities to work out during the 2013 offseason due to his hernia surgery.
Tuitt started 29-of-35 games at Notre Dame, including his final twenty-six at left defensive end and his first three starting assignments at left tackle…Finished with 127 tackles (59 solos), 21.5 sacks for minus 163 yards, 25.0 stops for losses of 176 yards and 27 quarter-back pressures…Caused four fumbles and recovered another that he advanced 77 yards for a touchdown…Deflected four passes, intercepted another in the end zone for a score and blocked one kick…School Career-Record Results…Tuitt’s twenty sacks are the most for any active Notre Dame player and rank fifth on the school career-record chart, one shy of Mike Gann’s total of 21.0, which ranks fourth in school history (note-sacks became a recorded statistic in 1982)…School Season-Record Results…Ranks second on the Irish season list with twelve sacks in 2012…School Game-Record Results…Tuitt’s 77-yard advancement of a fumble vs. Navy in 2012 is the second-longest in school history.
Tuitt started all thirteen games at left defensive end, playing more than twenty-five pounds over his previous weight from his sophomore campaign (328)…Ranked sixth on the team with a career-high 50 tackles (24 solos), leading the Irish for the second consecutive year with 7.5 sacks for minus 56 yards and nine stops for losses totaling 62 yards…Credited with thirteen quarterback pressures, as he caused one fumble, scored on an interception and deflected two passes…Recipient of the Notre Dame Moose Krause Lineman of the Year…Also on the watch lists for the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award…Recorded an interception return for touchdown vs. Michigan, becoming the first Irish defensive player with a fumble and interception return for touchdown in a career since Tommy Zbikowski (2004-07)…Played arguably his best game in a Notre Dame uniform vs. Southern California, as he registered his first multiple sack game of the season (two for minus 16 yards) and fourth of his career, adding seven tackles. Only two players in school history have posted more multiple sack games over their career (Justin Tuck and Bryant Young)…Registered six tackles, a sack and quarterback pressure in the victory over Michigan State…Added five stops, a sack and two quarterback pressures vs. Oklahoma…Posted his 17th career sack and fourth career forced fumble in the fourth quarter vs. Arizona State, as he added another half sack vs. the Sun Devils…Collected his milestone 20th career sack in the final minutes of Notre Dame’s 23-13 win over Brigham Young and helped prevent any chance of a Cougar comeback. He also recorded seven tackles, three quarterback pressures and a pass breakup vs. BYU.
Tuitt was named All-American first-team by ESPN.com, Athlon Sports, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, adding second-team accolades from the Walter Camp Foundation, the Associated Press and Sporting News, along with honorable mention from Pro Football Weekly…Added to the watch lists for the Maxwell Award, Bednarik Award and Ted Hendricks Award…Started all thirteen games at left defensive end, recording 47 tackles (24 solos), as he led the Irish with twelve sacks (second on the school season-record chart) for minus 89 yards and thirteen stops for losses of 93 yards…Credited with nine quarterback pressures…Returned a fumble recovery 77 yards for a touchdown and caused three fumbles…Also deflected one pass and blocked a kick…His score via a fumble recovery came in the season opener vs. Navy, as he also tallied four tackles and two sacks for nine yards vs. the Midshipman…Had four more tackles each vs. Purdue and Michigan State, as he posted two sacks for 12 yards vs. the Boilermakers and one sack vs. the Spartans…Made two tackles and a sack for 10 yards vs. Michigan and was in on seven tackles and a key half sack vs. Stanford…Posted five tackles and two sacks for a loss of 25 yards vs. Brigham Young and notched six tackles and 1.5 sacks for six yards in a three-overtime win over Pittsburgh…Added one sack each vs. Boston College and Wake Forest, as he also forced two fumbles vs. Boston College…Totaled five tackles in BCS National Championship Game vs. Alabama.
The talented freshman saw action in nine games, while starting vs. Navy, Wake Forest and Maryland at left defensive tackle…Did not play vs. Michigan, Purdue, Boston College or Stanford…Showed steady improvement throughout the season, tallying 26 of 30 tackles (11 solos) over the final six games played…Recorded two sacks for minus 18 yards, three stops for losses of 21 yards, five pressures and a pass deflection…Had season high in tackles with seven in games vs. Southern California and Navy…Notched five tackles and a pass breakup in a win vs. Air Force…Turned in his most disruptive game in a win at Wake Forest, compiling four tackles, with two going for a loss of 14 yards, as he also had an 11-yard sack…Registered three tackles to go along with a seven-yard sack in the Champs Sports Bowl vs. Florida State.
2013 Season…Following the 2012 season, Tuitt underwent sports hernia surgery that limited him during 2013 spring and fall camp. It also slowed down his performance during the first half of the 2013 schedule…At the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Tuitt was not given medical clearance to participate in agility tests after doctors at the combine found a Jones fracture in his left foot. Recovery is expected to take six-to-eight weeks
5.07 in the 40-yard dash…1.78 10-yard dash…2.94 20-yard dash…4.80 20-yard shuttle…
7.93 three-cone drill…30-inch vertical jump…8’-11” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 31 times…34 ¾-inch arm length…10-inch hands…82 5/8-inch wingspan.
Tuitt attended Monrow (Ga.) Area High School, playing football for head coach Matt Figg…
Rated 38th nationally on Sports Illustrated list of top players during his senior season…
Named Georgia Class 3A all-state first-team by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2010… One of four Georgia players to be named to all-Southern team by the Orlando Sentinel, as a defensive end, but also performed at tight end…Led Monroe High to an 11-2 record and a third-round appearance in the Georgia Class AAA state playoffs during his senior season, after the team had finished a combined 0-20 the previous two seasons…Received first-team all-Georgia Region 8-AAA accolades after he posted 56 tackles, 24 stops-for-loss, ten sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered…Closed out his career by playing in U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and in the Team USA vs. The World All-Star Game in Austin, Texas.
Tuitt is enrolled in the College of Arts and Letters, with a major in anthropology…Son of Tamara Tuitt…Born 5/23/93 in Miami, Florida…Resides in Monroe, Georgia.