Notre Dame commit recap: Stepherson makes plays in first win

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Kevin Stepherson looks at Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller and sees the type of playmaker he wants to become.

Stepherson, a 2016 recruit committed to the Irish, did his best Fuller impersonation on Friday night. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound receiver caught four passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns in a 64-0 win for Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast.

Stepherson scored on an 11-yard slant and a 55-yard deep ball. Stepherson showed his ability to run by defenders as a junior but has made a concerted effort to be more precise in other aspects of his game.

“I’ve improved my route-running, trying to get open using my change of speed and my quickness out of my breaks,” Stepherson said. “That’s the most important part of my game that I need to work on the most.”

When Fuller, who has already caught five touchdowns in three games, beats his defenders on Saturdays, Stepherson takes note. Stepherson is roughly the same size as Fuller was in high school.

“He’s playing fantastic. He’s playing like something I’ve never seen before,” Stepherson said. “I love his speed, his route-running, how he gets separation when the ball comes. I love everything about him. I try to learn from those type of guys.”

First Coast’s season hasn’t started as successfully as Notre Dame’s. The win on Friday marked its first in three games to open the year. Stepherson has confidence that his team can rebound. Using the Irish as a model can’t hurt.

“I know they took a big loss with Malik, but the backup quarterback is playing well,” Stepherson said. “He can lead the team very well. They have big playmakers on both sides of the ball and on the line. They can still do what they want to do if they put their minds to it.”

Fifteen other Notre Dame commits in the 2016 and 2017 class had games scheduled last week. Here’s a rundown how each fared:

QB Ian Book | El Dorado Hills (Calif.) Oak Ridge 42, Reed (Nev.) 54: Book threw for five touchdowns in a losing effort. His 25-of-34 passing performance for 419 yards wasn’t enough for Oak Ridge (3-1) in a shootout. Book also rushed for 26 yards.

WR Chase Claypool | Abbotsford (B.C.) Secondary 39, W.J. Mouat 36: Claypool scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to erase an 18-point deficit for an Abbotsford comeback victory. Claypool scored two rushing touchdowns and completed the comeback with a touchdown catch and two-point conversion for the Panthers (2-0).

RB Tony Jones Jr. and S Spencer Perry | Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy 59, Bergen Catholic (N.J.) 47: Jones hit the century mark for the first time in his senior season. Jones needed only 14 carries to rush for 100 yards and one touchdown in the shootout victory for IMG (4-0). Perry and the IMG defense limited Bergen to 14 points in the first half.

DB Jalen Elliott | Chesterfield (Va.) L.C. Bird 35, Manchester 0: Elliott produced three touchdowns — two passing and one rushing — in a dominant win for L.C. Bird (4-0). He completed four of his eight passes for 84 yards and rushed for 67 more yards. Elliott did not allow a completion in coverage as the Skyhawk defense combined for a shutout for the third time this season.

LB Jamir Jones | Rochester (N.Y.) Aquinas Institute 27, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute 7: Jones racked up eight tackles, three sacks and three pass deflections in a victory. He also caught two passes for 13 yards for Aquinas (3-0). Jones had a touchdown wiped out by an illegal formation penalty.

OL Parker Boudreaux | Orlando (Fla.) Bishop Moore Catholic 69, Poinciana 0: Boudreaux piled up eight pancake blocks in a blowout victory for Bishop Moore (4-0).

OL Josh Lugg | Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny 24, Central Catholic 17: Lugg helped clear the way for 276 rushing yards in a victory over the top-ranked team in the state. North Allegheny (2-1) won the game on a 28-yard touchdown run from quarterback Riley Trueman with 35 seconds left. Lugg finished with five pancakes.

TE Brock Wright | Cypress (Texas) Cy-Fair 56, Cypress Springs 14: Wright caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in a lopsided victory. He finished with two catches for 22 yards for Cy-Fair (2-1).

OL Dillan Gibbons | St. Petersburg (Fla.) Northside Christian 29, Fountain Academy 7: Gibbons helped block for a Northside Christian offense that scored three touchdowns and totaled 236 yards. The Mustangs (4-0) remained undefeated.

CB Julian Love | La Grange (Ill.) Nazareth Academy 19, Marian Central Catholic 34: Love’s 17-game winning streak at Nazareth came to an end on a night that included a weather delay and a blown 19-point lead. Nazareth (3-1) surrendered 34 unanswered points in the loss. Love scored twice — a 35-yard catch and an 11-yard rush — and totaled 17 tackles.

OL Tommy Kraemer | Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder 20, St. Edward 31: Kraemer and the Elmer offense fell behind 24-7 in the first half and couldn’t make up the deficit. The Panthers (3-1) were limited to 38 rushing yards, but passed for 351 yards in the comeback effort.

DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji | Walled Lake (Mich.) Central 0, Waterford Kettering 17: Ogundeji’s Walled Lake Central team lost for the fourth straight time to start the season. Ogundeji left the game in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury.

OL Liam Eichenberg | Cleveland St. Ignatius 6, St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.) 35: Eichenberg sat out again last week as he recovers from mononucleosis. Eichenberg hopes to return to the field for St. Ignatius (2-2) next week.

LS John Shannon | Wilmette (Ill.) Loyola Academy 42, Fenwick 0: Shannon remained sideline with a shoulder injury as Loyola moved to 3-1.

*Stats reported were provided by players, coaches or the following news organizations: MaxPreps, The Province, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, | 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)