A modest recruit who flew under the national radar. A stick-skinny freshman with surprising deep speed.
Kevin Stepherson‘s early arrival on campus has led to great expectations. Now all he has to do is deliver. (No pressure, kid.)
6’0″, 181 lbs.
Freshman, No. 29, WR
A three-star prospect who dominated Irish Invasion camp, Notre Dame immediately viewed Stepherson as an under-the-radar prospect, not a guy who barely cracked the Top 100 wideouts in the country.
With offers from Florida, Miami, LSU and Michigan, he certainly caught the eye of some big programs. And after arriving on campus early, Stepherson looked like another great find for Notre Dame’s staff.
At this point, it’s just a matter of time before someone compares Stepherson to Will Fuller. That might heap quite a bit on the freshman’s shoulders, but Brian Kelly has routinely praised Stepherson’s route-running and hands, two assets Stepherson enters college with that are at a more advanced place than Fuller’s.
Of course, pure speed is another commodity. And while Stepherson looks like a blazer, there’s good speed and then there’s Will Fuller speed. So until we see the young Floridian torch opponents over the top, we’ll drop his ceiling down a few notches—no slight when you’re comparing him to the most dangerous deep ball threat in college football.
Yes, that’s the freshman hype machine talking. But if we’re setting a ceiling for a prospect, all you can go on is what we’ve seen in 15 practices and snippets from training camp. So while comparing Stepherson to an All-American and first-rounder, that doesn’t mean his ceiling is anything but sky high.
This is the part where I remind you that even Will Fuller wasn’t Will Fuller during his freshman season. He was a gangly kid who caught a couple deep balls among his six grabs as a rookie.
Stepherson is going to eclipse those numbers. He might even challenge for a starting job. But it’s just too much of a leap to predict a monster season from Stepherson, even if the entire starting receiving corps is being replaced and the Florida native seems primed for a key role.
I’m setting the standard for Stepherson high—but only to a point. If Stepherson is going to share time in the slot, he’s got a chance to put up numbers at least equal to the last true freshman who jumped into an unproven depth chart—TJ Jones.
Jones had 23 grabs and three touchdowns as a rookie. I think Stepherson is going to eclipse that, but maybe not by much.
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