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Stephon Tuitt flips pledge to Georgia Tech

Jan 18, 2011, 4:45 PM EDT

Stephon Tuitt

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 “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.


  1. bryanwtx - Jan 18, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Not too big of a surprise. I considered him lost when he said he was taking one more official visit to make sure. Would have been nice to have him, but ND football will survive.

  2. bernhtp - Jan 18, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    I wonder if Tuitt was spooked by the commitment of Williams and Lynch and their six-month head start on him at ND.

    • whisk3yjack - Jan 18, 2011 at 11:04 PM

      I doubt it. Williams was recruited as an OLB for us; no competition there. And Lynch’s skillset was complementary to Tuitt’s; Lynch is more a speedy pass rusher where Tuitt is a powerful run-stuffer. If anything, I thought the commitment of those two would have solidified Tuitt since they claimed to enjoy tearing up the field together in the USAAA game.

      Tuitt was our 2nd or 3rd highest rated recruit in this class, at the position of greatest need for us. Of course ND Football will survive, but this hurts.

  3. fightinmad35 - Jan 18, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    While you want as many studs as you can get on your team, this position is one that BK and staff did not ignore this recruiting class. Let’s not overlook how promising Kona and Prince looked as freshman in the final games for ND.. Lynch on campus already, Hounshell, Ishaq, Springmann and Carrico, OMG. ND will be okay without Tuitt…. Gotta give BK props for addressing the most hard to fill and most important spot on a good team, defensive line. I am always leary of the small town Georgia guys leaving the south.. The Florida kids seem not to care but all the Georgia kids stay local usually. ND football is surging forward with prime time play and recruiting. Nix, Johnson, Lynch, Ishaq, Cwynar, Shembo, Shwenke, the ND frontline will be FINE for years to come.. GO IRISH!

  4. James Fitzgerald - Jan 19, 2011 at 5:47 AM

    As much as I think Stephon Tuitt might have contributed to Notre Dame, a guy’s got to follow his heart. Good luck to you, Stephon, throughout your career. And God Bless!

  5. tlndma - Jan 19, 2011 at 5:54 AM

    You have to think the Irish coaches smelled this one coming and that it was one of the reasons they went hard after Hounshell. That said they don’t give up very easily and I suspect Mr Tuitt will hear from them again. ND cetainly has #s at the position in this class. Tuitt though has the chance to be special.

  6. bradwins - Jan 19, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Can there be much doubt that this Coach Fligg is a shining example of everything is wrong with the college football recruiting world? Nobody could ever convince me that this guy is not as dirty as they come, or that his retirement account did not benefit greatly from “Stephon’s” decision.

    When something happens that otherwise makes no sense, follow the money.

    • whisk3yjack - Jan 19, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      The Bagman commeth.

  7. irishfan2791 - Jan 19, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    It’s cool Notre Dame got the two Defensive player they wanted, Lynch and Williams and personally If he didnt want to be here he shouldnt have committed. we have brought in a large amount of DE’s and I think we will do just fine with what we’ve got. I cant wait that kid gave up going after a National Championship to go to school in the ACC and personally if he doesn’t want it he isn’t gonna get it. Good luck to him but Notre Dame has got a season to get ready for.

  8. ndgoldandblue - Jan 19, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    I just read somewhere that Tuitt just re-committed to Notre Dame? Is this possible?

    • ndgoldandblue - Jan 19, 2011 at 11:00 PM

      Sorry…the first one wasn’t meant to be a question.

    • papadec - Jan 20, 2011 at 12:00 AM

      Check Bryan Driskell has a post tonight (1/19) that BK & others met with Stephon Tuitt today – he aired his concerns – they responded – he flipped back to ND. I don’t think most of us really understand/comprehend what these 17-18 year old kids are going through. If he is back in the ND family – congratulations to Coach Kelly & his staff, and welcome home Stephon.

      • papadec - Jan 20, 2011 at 12:03 AM

        Pardon the 3 hour time difference to Seattle – it’s still Wednesday the 19th out here.

  9. notredave - Jan 19, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    He’s baaaack!!! Go Irish!!!!

    • Keith Arnold - Jan 20, 2011 at 12:22 AM

      Working it up, gents… Quite a turn of events.

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