Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2014 Issue

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 43 of 107

A Lot Tuitt Junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt has to make the difficult decision of whether or not to head to the NFL early T By Andrew Owens here are several mysteries surrounding mammoth Irish defensive end Stephon Tuitt. The first and most important to the junior's teammates is which ingredients the Monroe, Ga., native includes in his specialty "Do-It, Tuitt Pasta." The 6-6½, 312-pound lineman won't reveal what goes into his specialty dish — "It's a secret. I'll tell you someday," he tells reporters while promising it's more than just plain noodles and butter — but that doesn't mean players and the media aren't left curious. "No, not yet," sophomore defensive end Sheldon Day said when asked if he has tried the recipe. "We've been working on him to cook for us, but he hasn't had time. Hopefully it's good. "Can you imagine that big of a guy on the Food Channel?" For Irish fans, the conundrum is of the will-he-stay-or-will-he-go variety. Despite seeing his numbers decrease this season to 7.5 tackles for loss and six sacks after recording 13 and 12, respectively, a year ago, Tuitt is listed eighth on ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.'s "Big Board" of 2014 prospects. "When you look at Tuitt, I'm very impressed with him," Kiper said. "We wanted to wait and see whether that pass-rush ability would be there. A 3-4 defense, he suits that perfectly. … I love the way he plays hard all the time, he hustles. "Stephon Tuitt is getting after it. He almost singlehandedly won that USC game [two sacks and two quarterback hurries in a 14-10 victory] for Notre Dame. [USC] had like four shots inside Notre Dame territory, and four times they were stopped. Tuitt had a lot to do with that because he was unblockable in a number of games this year." Tuitt underwent offseason hernia surgery that slowed him in September while he regained his core strength. Also adding to his poor luck in 2013 were consecutive games versus option opponents, against whom Tuitt could not take advantage of his pass-rushing talents, and a targeting ejection early in the second quarter of a 28-21 loss at Pittsburgh that most agree was a botched call by the officiating crew. When asked about when he felt fully healthy this season, Tuitt raised his head to stare at the schedule plastered on the wall of Isban Auditorium

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