Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 24, 2014 Issue

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

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IRISH IN THE PROS BY ANDREW OWENS T welve months ago, defensive line- man Stephon Tuitt suited up as a junior for Notre Dame at 330 pounds after struggling to shed weight follow- ing offseason hernia surgery. His sack total dipped from a team-high 12 in 2012, when the team reached the BCS National Championship Game, to 7.5 for a 9-4 squad that fell short of its ex- pectations in 2013. One year later, Tuitt is a spry 303-pound rookie for the Pitts- burgh Steelers. Between the incessant demands of schoolwork and learning how to take care of his body in the offseason, Tu- itt dropped 30 pounds in time for last May's NFL Draft. The Pittsburgh Steel- ers saw a fit in the Monroe, Ga., native for their 3-4 scheme and selected him in the second round. To date, he's played in each of the team's first 10 games and has earned an increase in playing time during the season, although he admits not starting immediately was an adjustment. "Yeah, I would say that," he said. "Here basically I had to rebuild my reputation and basically do everything like I did my freshman year at Notre Dame like it was my freshman year for the Steelers, and move on from there and learn the game and take full ad- vantage of the opportunities when they come my way." Part of being prepared includes main- taining a weight around 300 pounds, which is closer to his 2012 number than the one he registered in 2013. "I condition myself to be ready at practice," he said. "When the game comes it's easier for the conditioning part that I can chase someone down and make a tackle. I've done that a couple times already in our games. I can say the way I prepare and condi- tion throughout the week leading up to the game [allows me to be] confi- dent in games. "This is the NFL and it's a long sea- son, and people get banged up and I never know when my name is going to be called. When it does, I'm going to take full advantage of it." At last February's NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Tuitt acknowledged that the NFL Draft preparation taught him about conditioning and eating the right way. "I had my sports hernia surgery when I was at Notre Dame, and for someone who runs all the time and is active the way I am, I gained a lot of weight from that," he said. "At the combine, talking to nutritionists I met, they really taught me a lot that I have carried with me in the NFL. I'm doing great right now with my weight and balancing that. "I understand what I have to do if I do take too many carbs or do too much of something. Right now, I feel better Stephon Tuitt Adapts To Change With Steelers

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