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Tee Shepard leaves Notre Dame, future in question

Mar 15, 2012, 5:32 PM EDT

Tee Shepard

With spring practice set to begin in less than a week, Notre Dame announced promising early-signee freshman Tee Shepard is no longer enrolled in school. The move is a surprising turn of events for the Fresno, California native who signed with Notre Dame after a roller-coaster recruitment, one that saw his cousin Deontay Greenberrry, a heralded wide receiver prospect and long-time verbal commitment to the Irish, leave Notre Dame at the eleventh hour and instead sign with Houston.

Notre Dame’s statement was brief on the subject, stating that Shepard returned home to his family in Fresno, a fact supported by a Tweet sent Thursday afternoon by Greenberry, who was spending time with his cousin in their hometown. Head coach Brian Kelly had this to say about Shepard’s departure.

“Tee is a special person and it’s unfortunate it didn’t work out here,” Kelly said in a statement. “Everyone at Notre Dame wishes him all the best in the future.”

What that future holds is where things get murky. If Shepard chooses to enroll at a different school, it’ll be treated as a transfer, and he’ll be forced to sit out the 2012 football season, similar to Irish offensive lineman Jordan Prestwood, who sat out the 2011 season after enrolling and leaving Florida State before ever playing. Developmentally, it’s another step back for Shepard the football player, who hasn’t done much on the football field for an elite prospect. He played only a handful of games as a junior and then lost his senior season in high school after transfer rules kept him out of action for the entire season.

The timing of the announcement could also give a window into the decision. Less than a week ago, Shepard tweeted out a photo of his locker and jersey number, something that would steer you away believing the departure was because of homesickness or other personal reasons. Further, those close to Shepard were shocked at the move, with Shepard’s mentor and trainer Tony Perry telling ESPN’s Greg Biggins, “I’m real surprised he’s leaving Notre Dame. He seemed happy and told me he loved it there.”

The problem could have been in the classroom for Shepard. Midterm grade deficiencies were released on Tuesday, giving a potential stumbling block for an early-enrollee that was dealing with a stark transition from high school to college. Adding to that, Shepard’s transition was likely more challenging that most, with his hearing disability adding another obstacle to the generally difficult move from prep-level courses to Notre Dame’s rigorous First Year of Studies program.

While neither left during their first year, cornerbacks Darren Walls and Gary Gray both left the football program before returning to Notre Dame. The University’s carefully worded statement, and Brian Kelly’s qupte, don’t address the possibility of Shepard returning, who will likely enroll in some college by fall. Whether that’s a junior college to help supplement a return to Notre Dame, or another school with a Division-I football program remains to be seen.

Notre Dame, nor NCAA rules, wouldn’t prohibit Shepard’s return to South Bend, and it’s his only path onto a football field in 2012. But while he’s away, the depth chart at cornerback now becomes one of the glaring deficiencies on the Irish roster. Expected to step in and contribute next season, Shepard’s return to Fresno makes that currently impossible, leaving the cornerback competition this fall to returning contributors Bennett Jackson and Lo Wood, and freshman like Josh Atkinson, Jalen Brown, and current safety Eilar Hardy. A move to defense has been rumored for wide receiver Matthias Farley, who redshirted last season as a raw wide receiver.

However you cut it, Notre Dame’s investment in the Fresno duo of Greenberry and Shepard, two signature recruits for the 2012 class, has come up empty.


  1. nudeman - Mar 15, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    I wonder what BK’s reaction will be next time an assistant submits an expense report for a recruiting trip to Fresno.

    Just sayin’ ….

    • dickasman - Mar 15, 2012 at 6:30 PM


      I think ND should start a new recruiting procedure/policy. Do not recruit kids who chooses to have Tattoos on their boobies.

      In my country, Chest tattoo = not smart.

    • zman713 - Mar 17, 2012 at 2:29 PM

      I really am sad to read this, but those from the Central Valley in California predicted this 8 months ago. Both Greenbury and Shephard have ‘history’ of following the direction of their ‘handlers’ and not getting very good guidance. That, plus their complete LACK of participation in the classroom for years in HS, and the multiple transfers WHILE in HS, this happening was the safest bet imagineable.

      TS not only missed his sr year because of a ‘transfer’ thing that was brought on by someone giving him bad advice, he also lost most/all of another season(soph) due to the same thing. Also, the school he transferred TOO in Fresno is known for giving A’s to failing students that move into the school(last season, another LB transferred to Wash Union, from Central HS(tees old school where he also transferred FROM) and had 6 F’s the previous semester, somehow miraculously took summer school online courses from BYU, and 2 summer courses at his new HS, and now he had a solid b average and played.

      That, plus the Deont.Greenbury situation where he has on numerous occasions been caught with the 420(at one of the HS all star games, when he was blowing off practice, for gods sake) they were both NEVER going to make it in South Bend.

      All DI coaches knew ALL about ALL of this information i just posted, but some still took the chance. I wish Tee well, but he needs to get away from the people that are giving him advice, and he needs to focus in the classroom or he could end up like the other Fresno Flameout Cliff Harris(oregon) and several others who have made national news with their athletic prowess, but cant get past elementary classroom work.

      • nudeman - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        2 Questions:
        What is “caught with the 420”?
        Who the hell are his “handlers”? I’d assume that’s Mom & Dad?

        Your post makes me wonder why the hell BK wasted his time on either of these guys. He absolutely HAD to know about their lack of interest in academics.

        I repeat what I said the other day: I think it’s possible that Tee might NEVER play football again. Basically, he’s out for this year, unless he goes to a JuCo or back to ND, which isn’t gonna’ happen. That means IF he even suits up in 2013, it will be his first football action since 2010.

        Talent only gets you so far. He needs to be coached, practice and play to realize his potential.

      • nudeman - Mar 17, 2012 at 10:12 PM

        Figured out what 420 is.
        Total clowns going nowhere in life

        Both of them

      • jrct2450yahoo - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        Based upon what I have read in this forum I have two simple questions: What were Kelly & company thinking when they recruited this kid and how did he ever get through admissions? Taking a flyer on an individual is one thing but really…..

  2. bernhtp - Mar 15, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    This sounds more and more like an academic issue, especially with the timing right after midterm grades were released. Maybe he’ll do a Bill Laimbeer, who flunked out after his freshman year due to confusing Notre Dame for a place that would allow him to skate through without doing any work. He returned with a new attitude after a year in a JuCo.

    • dickasman - Mar 15, 2012 at 6:33 PM

      Wishful thinking, ain’t gonna happen. I can see it in his eyes and hair. This guy ain’t no Bill Laimbeer.

      • nudeman - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:08 PM

        Bruce Flowers maybe?

  3. ndirish10 - Mar 15, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    He loves Notre Dame, it’s just that the classes got in the way. ND and us fans will move on. Wish you the best, unless you end up in two years on a team that ND faces.

    • papadec - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:38 AM

      I don’t see Houston on the ND schedule in the next few years. I hope Tee has a chance to get himself together – whether @ ND, or somewhere else.

      • nudeman - Mar 17, 2012 at 10:13 PM

        Based on all I’ve read it isn’t gonna’ be ND.
        He might not even be JuCo material

  4. ndirish10 - Mar 15, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Gentlemen and Ladies,

    I’m new to this board and hope that you extend a welcome to a subway alumni fan.

    • dickasman - Mar 15, 2012 at 6:31 PM

      Welcome nudeman!

      • nudeman - Mar 15, 2012 at 7:51 PM

        Nope, that’s not me.

        I still only have one screen name.
        Accept nothing but the real nudeman (2.0)

      • ndirish10 - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:10 AM

        Sorry dickasman, not nudeman. I’m from Southern California and been a fan of ND since 1986, when I was 6 years old. “Ain’t Irish but I am Catholic” – how I justify my allegiance to the Irish. Actually started following the program when I first saw my first 49ers game and watched Joe guide them to victory. Then I followed up and learned that he played at ND and began to follow them then. Hope to contribute to the board. Keith, this is a great site.

      • dickasman - Mar 16, 2012 at 12:03 PM

        I am just kidding guys….Welcome aboard this crazyyy trainnnn……dananananana dananana dananana, dananannananananan, dana, dana

    • ndnative - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:35 AM

      Welcome, ndirish10!

      Most times of the year I am jealous of CA for its fine meteorological conditions, but the Midwest is rockin’ some decent weather these days…

  5. surly1n1nd1anapol1s - Mar 15, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Another instance of the NCAA’s double standard. Coaches can leave at will. Players cannot. Understandably so for competitive balance but this kid hasn’t played a down has he?

    It’s good for the student to realize early that the academic standard cannot be met. The school can appreciate as well.

  6. andy44teg - Mar 15, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Wow..what a complete waste of resources on these two kids. I know hindsight’s 20/20…but seriously…i wonder who we passed on b/c we had these guys in the bag. Frustrating. Wonder if this means that Devonta’ will be looked at that much harder for DB now. On the bright side…VERY excited to see Carlisle play in ’12.

    • nudeman - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:00 PM

      Yes, good news about Carlisle but that’s not nearly the position of need that CB is. So overall today is a net loss.

      I’d wager there’s a chance Shepard NEVER plays college football.

      He missed his senior HS season because of a transfer; now he’s whiffed on an ND scholarship and most likely will need to sit out yet another year.
      Combine that with his hearing impairment and the typical level of immaturity for an 18 year old and he’s got a major uphill battle.

      Then again, there’s always Houston.

      • andy44teg - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:59 AM

        My thoughts exactly! First thing that popped into my mind was the next thing we’ll hear is Tee is going to Houston. For some crazy reason, all this kid wants to do is play with his cousin…REALLY BAD. It’s already cost him 2 years of football.

      • 1historian - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:20 AM

        Nudie – 1st 4 paragraphs were good but then you had to close with a snarky comment about an 18 year old kid who’s obviously having some trouble.

        You’re better than that.

      • nudeman - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:35 AM

        Point taken. But more of a slam at UofHouston than Tee.

        I feel bad for Tee. Has some maturity issues, and of course the hearing challenge. It sounds like he loved ND. Just not mature enough to get his priorities straight (academics vs girls)

        Someone on another board pointed out the case of Bill Laimbeer who flunked out, then went to a JuCo and got his act together, then returned and graduated from ND. So it can be done. KEITH … any chance of this with Tee?

    • nudeman - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:07 PM

      Since they had a small recruiting class (16? now 15?) I don’t think they passed on anyone. Davonte (note spelling there, dude) is the obvious CB option now. Other names have been mentioned, but if you ever saw Neal’s video, there was one clip of him in coverage that was amazing. Might be his best position.

      And don’t forget, they’re actually fairly deep at slot – K. Russell, Farley, Toma and Riddick if he stays there.

      I am not going to say that losing this kid is a non issue; but he isn’t the difference between another 8-5 season and them going 11-2. The world isn’t ending.

      • akirish - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:44 AM

        I agree that Neal is a logical choice to put at CB given the recent developments. However, there is some young talent at the position, and untried doesn’t necessarily mean unworthy.

        How nice is it that we are discussing depth at an offensive skill position to the degree we are ready to move a blue chip playmaker like Neal to defense already?

        The thought of explosive threats like Carlisle, Neal, and Russell added into the spread has me thinking of a South Bend version of Oregon’s trio of Barner, James, and Thomas. I know our guys have a long way to go to prove themselves on the field, but the thought of their big play abilities added to our proven commodities is exciting. We may finally have the number of playmakers it takes to truly stress a defense and be explosive. I can’t wait to watch it develop.

        Now if Golson just plays like Darron Thomas, we’ll be set…..

      • bernhtp - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        Even non-athlete students at Notre Dame need to work hard to keep up with academics and they have an average incoming math/verbal SAT of around 1420. Scholarship football players have a considerably-lower mean scholastic profile and need to work much harder to just get by. Admissions does a good job at ensuring that kids are not admitted where success is impossible, and each kid gets a tremendous amount of support and help, but ultimately the kid needs to work really hard and be highly focused. The speculation here is that there was failure in this last component. If so, he needs to be at a place where academic demands are not nearly so rigorous or grow up.

      • nudeman - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:03 AM

        Here is a question I saw posed on another board. Anyone know what the answer is?

        IF Tee goes to a JuCo, like right away, gets his act together in terms of studying, pulls some decent grades, grows up a notch or two, THEN returns to ND in the Fall, would he be eligible to play for ND this year?

        I know this is below the 50th percentile in terms of likelihood, but not an impossibility. Who knows what kind of an epiphany he’ll have going through something like this? Maybe it’s just the shock he needs to grow up.

      • bernhtp - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:11 AM

        Nude: My suspicion is that fatally-poor grades were near certain and he withdrew before they would need to be reflected on his transcript (as if he were never there). However, the wording of the announcement suggests that he will not be back for summer school and thus not playing in the fall. My guess is that the university will require that he show academic success elsewhere before taking another chance on him (Laimbeer did this). This is obviously a long shot.

      • nudeman - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM

        I feel bad for him. Obviously maturity – as opposed to intelligence – is probably the biggest issue in play.

        I went through something similar in college myself. You know the dream many of us have where you go to class, discover it’s the day the final is being given and realize we haven’t read the book?

        That was me. And today, I STILL have that dream, decades later. Seriously.

        Anyway, my epiphany was when I received a notice at home over Christmas vacation that I was on “Academic Warning”. I remember those words like it was yesterday. BUT … that was the beginning of my growing up re: college life and adulthood and taking responsibility. Still a work in progress though.

        Maybe this will change him.

    • dickasman - Mar 16, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      My thoughts exactly Andy but this is what recruiting for ND has come to. I have been all for going after 5 star recruits with reckless abandon to obtain a championship(or near it) but I am beginning to change my mind. Maybe we should just stick to smart 3 star recruits.

  7. papadec - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    OK – so we’ll have to win games with scores like 49-24. But seriously, I think the defense will be tough – even if ND is weak at CB. If we just don’t give it away in the Red Zone, we should be OK. Nude, let me say two things for you: 1.) I believe you called the Fresno defections during the last recruiting cycle. 2.) regarding Red Zone turnovers – don’t start TR.

    • jpwert - Apr 14, 2012 at 1:54 AM

      Do you think Notre Dame’s defense is going to fare well against the likes of Landry Jones and Matt Barkley? I don’t see it happening with four new starters in the secondary and Lynch heading home to Florida. Maybe we can find a way to score fifty and win one of those two.

  8. audiguy - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    He hasn’t seemed to fit the mold from the beginning. I was surprised he enrolled early after his commitment seemed to be wavering and threatening to sign with SC

  9. Keith Arnold - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    @Nude — The answer to your question regarding eligibility is yes. I asked the same thing to ND and it sounds like that is the case. ND is the only place that Tee can play next year. Otherwise he sits out a transfer year.

    • nudeman - Mar 16, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      Thanks. Based on what you’ve found out, do you think there is ANY chance of him getting his act together and returning?

      • Keith Arnold - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:03 PM

        No clue yet.

      • dickasman - Mar 16, 2012 at 4:24 PM

        ***in Keith’s voice*** Yes, he will get straight A’s at university city college of phoenixonline fresno then transfer back to ND along with his cousin dingleberry.

        In other words, highly doubt it. I see him ending up at USC or Houston.

      • dickasman - Mar 16, 2012 at 4:28 PM

        I mean I guess I can’t get mad at the kid. He at least enrolled, although I wonder if he just intentionally messed it up so he could go elsewhere.

  10. k1intl - Mar 18, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    It will be interesting to see if tee goes to USC or any other d1 school this year. ND was able to convince the NCAA that Amir was allowed to play w/o a year off after playing last year for sc. Could be a crazy double standard.

    • nudeman - Mar 18, 2012 at 6:23 PM

      I say he never plays D-I CFB.
      Missed half of his sophomore HS season; missed ALL of his senior season.
      Now – most likely – has thrown away his frosh college season.

      In other words has not played football since 2010. Someone is giving this kid terrible direction. Why would anyone think he’ll straighten up, get some grades and get admitted to a school like USC? Or put another way, if YOU were the AD at a top flight school would YOU commit a scholarship to this guy? I wouldn’t.

  11. tony34343434 - Mar 18, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    I love ND football as all of you do, and we all look at recruiting and go nuts because we miss the real thing, cant wait for it. All of us know this is not the end of the world, how many can’t misses have we had that never made it, or guys who were unknown who became stars, i do it to because we love ND and we want to see them win again, BK has got to coach the boys he has, and make them into men. if he is the coach we think he is he can do it, we are thin at CB but make up for it in other areas, not sure if he would have made a huge impact this year anyway, he took his senior year off from football, and he was only a freshman , it is a huge jump from HS to college. Good luck to him, lets move on with what we have and BK get it done, if the CB’s are weak find a way to get that pass rush in!

  12. ttirish - Mar 20, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    This is a tragic decision for Tee. To forgoe a Notre Dame education, irregardless of football, is a decision he will pay for the rest of his life. When you go to ND you have to perform in the classroom first; the football field is always second. Best of luck and God Bless you Tee.

  13. ttirish - Mar 20, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    Some comments here are very disrespectful to USC with regards to TS automatically going there. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a Trojan, I have bled Irish green for 50+ years and I have sat through many Irish-Trojan games over the past 5 decades. Before you can vanquish your most hated rival you must first respect them. Please keep that in mind when you enter the Colesium this year. I will be there, God willing.

  14. runners00 - Mar 23, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    He’s going to Houston — and we’re staying far from Fresno. Too bad.

    • ttirish - Mar 23, 2012 at 9:54 PM

      TS gives the fine city of Fresno, CA a bad name. He’s going nowhere fast but don’t be surprised if he ends up a Fresno State Bulldog. It might be a good fit for both of them and their coach is one of the most underrated and feared in the country. No one wants to play Fresno State and that includes our beloved Irish. I’m just sayin’

  15. zman713 - Mar 28, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    Coach is underrated and feared? He is new and has never been a head coach. FSU coach is brand new this year buckaroo.

    Inside scoop from a FEW reliable sources is many believe he will be at a PAC 12 school in the fall. If this happens, the NCAA should be shot. Second part of the inside scuttlebutt continues to unfold. Seems there was a problem with the NCAA clearinghouse and classes taken, and ACT scores. Seems the ACT score was well below the Notre Dame minimum, even for athletes. Also, seems Tee was offered the opportunity to attend a prep school this semester to earn qualifications, and to take the ACT again, which he refused.

    Why dont people just come out and tell the truth, instead of trying to politically correct sugar coat things. Whomever is handling this kid, and giving him guidance, needs to have guidance themselves.

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