Apr 8, 2013, 5:53 PM EDT
Last season, Stephon Tuitt put himself on the map with a breakout sophomore season. While his numbers tailed off down the stretch, Tuitt was near the top of the NCAA leaders in sacks halfway through the season, en route to a still mighty impressive team leading 12 quarterback take-downs. For a 3-4 defensive end that was one of the best run stuffers in the country, there’s not much to complain about considering it was Tuitt’s first season as an every-down contributor.
While most of us just assumed the slow down in production was a combination of defenses adjusting and Tuitt wearing down, Brian Kelly revealed earlier this spring that it was a sports hernia that hampered Tuitt, an injury the rising junior had surgery on to help correct this offseason.
“He’s already moving really well,” Kelly said a few weeks ago, when updating the media on his recovery. “He feels so much better. He had some restriction in that groin-hip flexor area where he was really restricted and really running out. So we said, ‘You know what? Let’s get it done. Let’s not wait on it.’ It’s something we may have managed, but we want to get him 100 percent.”
Tuitt is back contributing in practice, getting developmental reps while gingerly working back from the procedure. But the break in training also gave Tuitt a chance to add some bulk, a number that might actually be under-reported at 322 pounds.
“With the surgery, he wasn’t working out and he put on a little weight,” Kelly explained, pegging the defensive end at a number closer to Louis Nixian 330 pounds. “Coach Longo will get him down to what we believe is a better number, and he knows that too. He’s practiced really well, and I’m pleased with the way he’s moving. He’s been able to cut loose and really do the things that kind of encumbered him last year with that hernia.”
It’s amazing to consider that Tuitt played “encumbered” last season. While he didn’t pass former Irish great Justin Tuck’s sack record after being shut out in the season’s last two ball games, he still performed at a remarkably high level, especially in the scheme Bob Diaco employs.
But as we get an idea of what the 2013 defense has in store for opposing offenses, it’s amazing to think that Tuitt will likely be playing at least a full 20 pounds heavier than he did last season. That’s downright scary.
“I think he’s going to be a natural 315,” Kelly said, up from the 295 he was listed at last season. “He’s just a big fella. He’s a little heavy right now, but we’ll get him down.”
That combination of size and speed is likely to produce another All-American caliber season. While Jadeveon Clowney has already started to cement his legendary status with his helmet-popping hit against Michigan running back Vincent Smith, Tuitt might actually be flying under the radar.
Sep 2, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator talk about beginning preparations for playing Notre Dame.
Sep 1, 2014, 1:58 AM EDT
Former Irish and NFL football player Pat Eilers has joined the Irish coaching staff. The member of the 1988 national championship team has been named a defensive quality control assistant for the coaching staff.
Aug 31, 2014, 5:49 PM EDT
Upon second viewing, quarterback Everett Golson’s 2014 debut is just as impressive. The senior quarterback, playing his first game in 600 days, didn’t seem to miss a beat, leading Notre Dame with five total touchdowns on the way to a 48-17 victory over Rice.
Aug 30, 2014, 9:48 PM EDT
The last stormy, humid season opener at Notre Dame Stadium found an infamous place in the Irish record books. Saturday afternoon’s 48-17 drubbing of Rice will be remembered in a much better light.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
The live blog is back for another season of Notre Dame football. While most of your favorite writers are watching the game and taking notes, I’m here chatting it up with a few thousand of my closest friends. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Aug 30, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT
Before we get to the action on the field, the NDonNBC crew spent some time on campus and produced a few cool features to help kickoff the season.
Aug 30, 2014, 12:43 AM EDT
Consider this a public service announcement for all of those unable to get in front of a TV this afternoon. If you’re stuck at work or on the road over Labor Day weekend, we’ve got you covered to watch the game.
Aug 29, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT
Putting up a better fight for the starting quarterback job than anyone expected, sophomore Malik Zaire reminded many Irish fans that he’s more than just an afterthought in the program. Irish A-to-Z concludes with a look at Notre Dame’s backup quarterback.
Aug 29, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT
Arriving late on the scene during the recruiting cycle, Notre Dame looks like they found a good one in freshman Jhonny Williams. Irish A-to-Z takes a look at the local defensive end, who shows early promise as a pass rusher.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT
Happy Labor Day weekend, everybody. Here’s hoping you’re spending the holiday with friends, family… and some long-awaited college football. Before we get to the game tomorrow, let’s clean out our first regular season mailbag.
Aug 29, 2014, 12:34 AM EDT
That took long enough, didn’t it? After far too long, football is back. With a preseason camp that the Irish survived mostly healthy, the biggest hits came off the field. As an academic investigation claimed its fifth player Thursday, let’s run through the Pregame Six Pack to get you ready for Saturday’s kickoff.
Aug 28, 2014, 7:42 PM EDT
The look of Notre Dame’s defensive line changed drastically when senior Ishaq Williams was suspended indefinitely for his role in the academic dishonesty case now pending at the university level. Irish A-to-Z takes a closer look at the one-time five-star recruit.
Aug 28, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT
It appears that Notre Dame’s internal investigation surrounding academic dishonesty charges is nearing a close. But before it gets there, one additional player will be held out of practice and from competition this Saturday.
Aug 28, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT
Busy prepping for her debut as NBC’s sideline reporter for Notre Dame football, NBC Sports Group’s Kathryn Tappen was nice enough to catch up with me before the season begins.
Aug 28, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT
With Notre Dame on a roll at tight end, freshman Nic Weishar enters “Tight End U” trying to make a name for himself. Irish A-to-Z looks at the Chicagoland tight end.
Aug 28, 2014, 12:34 PM EDT
As most hard-core recruiting fans notice Brian VanGorder’s willingness to break the mold when it comes to recruiting, freshman cornerback Nick Watkins looks the part of a perfect prototype. Irish A-to-Z continues with a look at the newest blue-chipper in the secondary.
Aug 28, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT
Brian Kelly appeared on the Dan Patrick show this morning and shed some light on the academic investigation that’s holding out DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams.
Aug 27, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT
Entering his fifth year in Notre Dame’s football program, grad student Justin Utupo is still looking to find a role in the Irish defense. Irish A-to-Z continues with the reserve defensive lineman.
Aug 27, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT
After being buried on the safety depth chart, junior John Turner became one of the talks of spring practice when he moved from forgotten man to a potential starter at outside linebacker. Irish A-to-Z looks at the unlikely outside linebacker.
Aug 27, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT
The season is finally here. Got questions before the opener? Drop them in the comments or over on Twitter @KeithArnold.
- The good, bad and ugly: Notre Dame vs. Rice 66
- Five things we learned: Notre Dame 48, Rice 17 109
- Pregame Six Pack: At long last, the season begins 26
- And in that corner… The Rice Owls 8
- Kelly names Collinsworth, Day, Martin and McDaniel captains 40
- Setting the bar: Expectations for the 2014 Irish 93