Film Study: Notre Dame WR commit Kevin Stepherson

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

WR commit Kevin Stepherson, 6-1, 180; Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast

The numbers: Stepherson averaged nearly 23 yards per catch in his junior season at First Coast with 33 receptions for 756 yards and 11 touchdowns. First Coast (12-1) ended its season with a loss to eventual Class 8A state champion Apopka in a regional final.

The rankings: Rivals — Three stars, No. 62 wide receiver. 247Sports — Three stars, No. 119 wide receiver.

FILM BREAKDOWN

First impression: Stepherson is a big-play threat who uses his speed to get behind defenses. Even on short passes, Stepherson has a chance to stretch the play into a touchdown. He works best creating separation from the secondary on deep passes.

Strengths: Stepherson has the ability to blow past defenders at the top of his routes. Once he hits full speed, not many defensive backs on film can keep up. With the ball in his hands, Stepherson runs well in space and reads angles well to outrun the secondary. He shows a shiftiness in making defenders miss when they’re closing in on a tackle. Stepherson times his jumps to catch the ball at its highest point.

He did what? (:06) Stepherson takes a quick screen pass to the house with the help of some nifty moves. After an initial surge forward, cuts right to avoid a pair of defenders and makes a line for the pylon. He jumps into the end zone to beat a last-ditch effort to stop him … (1:26) Stepherson bailed out his quarterback on terribly underthrown deep ball. With two defenders ready to snag an easy interception, Stepherson comes back to the ball and hauls it in between both players. He shows good instincts in getting to the ball before the defenders can … (3:49) Stepherson shows his control in staying calm with a defender on his hip. He shields the cornerback off and hauls in the pass for a big gain.

Competition level: First Coast played a number of the best teams in northern Florida during its undefeated regular season. Talented opponents included Lake Mary, DeLand, and Raines (the alma mater of former Irish nose guard Louis Nix). First Coast won two playoff games in Florida’s highest classification, 8A, before losing to Apopka. In the final game of the season, Stepherson still managed four catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns against the eventual state champions.

Left to prove: Stepherson has plenty of work to do to become a complete wide receiver, but he seems to rely on beating teams deep too often. Of the 24 catches seen on film, 14 of them were on deep throws. He needs to find more consistency in his route-running to be a more dynamic weapon on offense. It’s easy to imagine Stepherson’s ceiling mirroring Will Fuller’s, but his career could easily resemble Chris Brown’s too. Both were speedy receivers, but Fuller reached another level when he started making plays in multiple ways. Showing the ability to be a possession receiver would be an important progression in Stepherson’s senior season.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Three-star wide receiver Kevin Stepherson verbally committed to Notre Dame following Irish Invasion on Friday, June 19, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Rivals)