Jan 18, 2011, 4:45 PM EDT
With Notre Dame on an unprecedented recruiting run, the Irish hit their first speed bump with the de-commitment of defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt, recently upgraded by Rivals to a five-star recruit, will now stay home in Georgia and play for head coach Paul Johnson.
“I think it’s where my heart was the whole time,” Tuitt told AJC.com. “I feel like I made a decision I can be comfortable with.”
Tuitt’s high school coach at Monroe Area high school, Matt Fligg, seemed mighty pleased by the decision to stay closer to home.
“I am just tickled to death that these kids are going to Georgia Tech and it is a school where people in our community and from our school can watch them play,” head coach Matt Fligg said. “I would hop on a plane any day to watch Tuitt or Smith play, but having them so close is really special. Those two kids almost single-handedly turned our program around.”
Tuitt’s flip was something that the Notre Dame coaching staff was obviously braced for with Chase Hounshell pledging to the Irish yesterday and defensive end Troy Niklas visiting campus at the end of the month. But the loss is a big one for defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who had a prototype 3-4 defensive end in Tuitt.
If there was a recruit in Notre Dame’s stable that seemed most likely to flip it was Tuitt, as his hometown roots always seemed to weigh heavy on him.
“I saw this coming, I just wasn’t sure what he’d do,” Fligg said. “He’s been thinking about it a while and just wanted to get it over with. He just wanted to be closer to home.”
No decision is final until the first Wednesday of February and while Tuitt has stated he’ll be finished taking visits from coaches outside of Georgia Tech, expect the Irish to continue to chase him up until Signing Day.