Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 23, 2017

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

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Page 12 of 55 OCT. 23, 2017 13 UNDER THE DOME Sophomore wide receiver Kevin Stepherson saw his first action during the 52-17 rout of Miami (Ohio) Sept. 30, but it was limited to 10 snaps while he attempts to re-acclimate into the lineup. A report from local news chan- nel WNDU in August indicated he would be suspended the first four games this season for violation of team rules, although neither the university nor head coach Brian Kelly would confirm or deny the reports. Miami (Ohio) was the fifth game. Stepherson caught 25 passes last season as a freshman for 462 yards (18.5 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. Only Michael Floyd in 2008 caught more TD passes as an Irish freshman, snaring seven. "He's been doing a much better job in terms of the day-to-day attention to detail and just his focus — the traits that I've been talking about with him," Kelly said of Stepherson two days before the Miami (Ohio) game. His expectations for Stepherson are more about the long term, especially because his work volume with practice reps has been so low since the spring. "He's got great explosion and takeoff. He can run by anybody we play against," Kelly said. "He has elite speed. He's got to work on his concentra- tion skills and his focus. He'll drop a ball here or there just because he's not locked in the way we need him to be." The Irish head coach lauded Stepherson for meeting the de- mands the football operation has placed on him since January and sticking it out at Notre Dame rather than transfer. He consis- tently ran with the last group throughout spring and in August preseason camp. "This has been a long haul for him," Kelly summarized. "He's had to do a lot to get himself here. Off the field, he's made significant progress — and then he's got to work his way up the depth chart, too. We're not going to accelerate that. He's going to have to earn that, and that's going to take time, too. "Probably what I'm most proud of him is his grit and sticking with it. He could have kicked the can and said, 'I'm gone, I'm going to transfer.' But he knew that Notre Dame was a place that could change his life. I think in a large degree it has in many ways and continues to every day." Kelly said Stepherson's main position is the X, where graduate transfer Cameron Smith has received the bulk of reps, with freshman Michael Young and junior C.J. Sanders also in the rotation. Holy Cross Village is a continuing care retirement community, sponsored by the Brothers of Holy Cross, with a tradition of caring, compassion and trust. Holy Cross Village welcomes people of all faiths. 54515 State Rd., 933 North, Notre Dame, IN 46556 ... AND ENJOY THE GAME OF LIFE AT HOLY CROSS VILLAGE I magine making new friends and developing new talents, where everything you need to enjoy the game of life is right outside your front door. Nestled among three institutions of higher learning, Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame is a senior living community unlike anything else around. Our warm and inviting community offers: Independent Living Homes and Apartments Assisted Living Apartments Skilled Nursing Memory Care Rehabilitation Services Call (574) 251-2235 today for more information and to schedule a tour. KEVIN STEPHERSON GRADUALLY RETURNING TO LINEUP Stepherson saw his first action of the 2017 season against Miami (Ohio) Sept. 30, playing 10 snaps and catching one pass for a three-yard loss. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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