It seems the Notre Dame Fighting Irish always boast of a top-notch defense. For many starting NFL lineman, linebackers and secondary players, the road to the pro ranks has run through South Bend.
Stephon Tuitt is the newest addition to a long list of stout Notre Dame defenders. The 6’7, 312-pound first-team All-American has earned a reputation for terrorizing opposing offenses. Tuitt has the size to dominate smaller linemen and the speed to run to the edges to make tackles.
As a talented freshman, Tuitt saw action in nine games, while starting against Navy, Wake Forest and Maryland. He showed steady improvement throughout the season, tallying 26 of 30 tackles over the final six games played.
Initially overshadowed by his defensive line teammate, Aaron Lynch, Tuitt emerged as a star in 2012 after Lynch transferred. He started with six sacks in the first four games of the season. He finished his sophomore year with 47 tackles, including 13 for loss, a team-high 12 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup and one blocked kick.
Tuitt had an outstanding prep career. He was rated 38th nationally on the Sports Illustrated list of top players from 2010, and was a Georgia Class 3A all-state first-team defense selection for the year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Tuitt ranked 22nd overall on the Rivals 100 list, 23rd on the Sporting News Top 100 list and 90th on the ESPN 150 list.
Tuitt help lead Monroe Area High School to an 11-2 record and a third-round appearance in the Georgia Class AAA state playoffs during his senior season in 2010, after the school had finished a combined 0-20 the previous two seasons. He recorded 56 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered as a junior in 2009.