At least in South Bend, Kevin Stepherson‘s freefall is complete.
According to 247Sports.com, Stepherson, along with three other Notre Dame football players — sophomore running backs CJ Holmes and Deon McIntosh as well as junior defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum — have been dismissed from the Fighting Irish program. No specific reason or reasons for the dismissals were given.
Stepherson was one of four Irish players who were suspended for the team’s Citrus Bowl matchup with LSU, with the wide receiver’s suspension stemming from a handful of off-field issues.
Dec. 15, Stepherson was arrested for shoplifting. The day before that arrest, Stepherson was pulled over on a traffic stop and charged with marijuana possession, driving without a valid license and speeding (he was clocked doing 80 in a 60 mph zone). To make matters worse, at the time of his twin arrests the receiver was already on probation for a marijuana-related arrest in August of 2016.
Adding to the off-field issues, Stepherson was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for reasons unrelated to the arrest in August of 2016.
At the time of the second suspension, Stepherson led the Fighting Irish in receiving touchdowns with five and yards per catch at 18.9 despite missing one-third of the regular season because of the first suspension. His 19 receptions and 359 receiving yards were both good for third on the team.
Another of the players who were dismissed, Holmes, was arrested along with Stepherson in the shoplifting incident. Holmes ran for 32 yards on eight carries this season.
McIntosh was the fourth of the four players suspended for the bowl game. At the time of his suspension, McIntosh was third on the team in rushing with 368 yards and five touchdowns.
Tiassum played very sparsely this past season, and wasn’t looking at much more playing time in 2018.
The first early National Signing Day has come and gone, but there are still some high-level recruits left on the board. And many of them went off the board during today’s U.S. Army All-American Game.
Below are all the hat ceremonies that went down today in San Antonio.
Moultrie, Ga., 4-star outside linebacker J.J. Peterson chooses Tennessee:
Santa Ana, Calif., 4-star offensive guard Chris Murray picks UCLA:
Baton Rouge, La., 4-star safety Kelvin Joseph selects LSU:
Louisville, Ky., 4-star wide receiver Rondale Moore picks Purdue:
Bradenton, Fla., 5-star cornerback Brendan Radley-Hiles chooses Oklahoma:
Anaheim, Calif., 5-star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (and brother of former Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown) commits to USC:
And for those interested, here are highlights of the West’s 17-16 win over the East.
For the second time in as many days, Notre Dame is losing a productive member of its offense.
On his Instagram account Friday afternoon, Josh Adams announced that, “[w]ith a lot of thought, prayer and discussion with my family, I’ve decided to forgo my senior year and enter the 2018 NFL Draft.” In the missive, the running back stated that he’ll “always have Notre Dame in my heart” and will “definitely be back to earn and receive my degree” from the university.
Adams led the Fighting Irish in rushing each of the past two seasons. After running for 933 as a sophomore in 2016, he ran for 1,430 this season, a total that was good for 14th nationally. During his three seasons in South Bend, he also accounted for 20 touchdowns on the ground.
Thursday, Adams’ teammate and wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown announced that he too will be leaving the Irish early for the NFL.
The man with the best name in college football is no longer going to play college football.
Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown took to Twitter on Thursday evening to announce that he was leaving South Bend and declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft.
St. Brown was the Irish’s leading receiver each of the past two years and one of the team’s biggest playmakers. While his numbers (33 catches, 515 yards and four touchdowns) were down from 2016 to 2017, the 6-foot-5 wideout turning pro early was expected and it’s possible he could wind up going early come draft weekend. He joins Notre Dame offensive lineman Quenton Nelson in making the jump from this year’s team to the pros but the pair is not expected to be alone with decisions coming from running back Josh Adams and linebacker Te’von Coney among others.
Losing St. Brown is still a big blow to Brian Kelly’s 2018 squad though, especially when you factor in receiver Kevin Stepherson has been indefinitely suspended from all football-related activities. The Irish will have two quarterbacks with plenty experience but finding reliable targets for them will be one of the key questions facing the team over the next several months prior to the season opener.
A late touchdown pass from backup quarterback Ian Book to wideout Miles Boykin lifted No. 14 Notre Dame to a 21-17 win over No. 17 LSU in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. It was the second time in four seasons the Irish have closed the year with a bowl win over LSU; the Irish booked a 31-28 Music City Bowl defeat of the Bayou Bengals to conclude the 2014 campaign.
After a 3-0 first half, LSU took the lead on a 20-yard pass from Danny Etling to Derrius Guice, then extended its advantage to 14-6 on a 2-yard Guice run with 11:13 left in regulation. However, two missed field goals late in the first half cost LSU a chance to take complete control of the game with Guice’s scores.
With Book in the game for starter Brandon Wimbush (3-of-8 for 52 yards), Notre Dame drove 75 yards in 10 plays to score on a 5-yard Dexter Williams run, then tied the game on a Josh Adams shovel pass that was originally ruled short of the goal line but overturned upon review.
LSU moved to the Notre Dame 1-yard line with 2:03 remaining, but Ed Orgeron elected to go for a 17-yard Jack Gonsoulin rather than risk a 4th-and-1 play. Gonsoulin’s kick was good, giving the Tigers the lead.
Notre Dame needed only three plays to take the lead, when Book (14-of-19 for 164 yards with two touchdowns and one interception) found Boykin for this 55-yard score.
LSU’s last-gasp chance to win the game died on an incomplete Etling pass on a 4th-and-15 from his own 29-yard line.
LSU closed Orgeron’s first season as head coach at 9-4, while Notre Dame successfully erased the taste of last year’s 4-8 season with a 10-3 campaign. The win allowed Brian Kelly to become the fourth head coach in Notre Dame history to record three 10-win seasons.