Film study: Notre Dame WR enrollee Kevin Stepherson
WR Kevin Stepherson, 5-11, 171; Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast.
The numbers: Stepherson caught 48 passes for 835 yards and 10 touchdowns in his senior season at First Coast. The Buccaneers finished the season with a 3-7 record.
The rankings: 247Sports – Three stars, No. 127 wide receiver. Rivals – Three stars, No. 66 wide receiver.
First impression: Stepherson is a big-play receiver with a knack for yards after the catch. He combines solid route running with good top-end speed. A crowded depth chart should allow Stepherson to take his time to develop as a freshman.
Strengths: The catch is only the start for Stepherson. He’s shown a tendency to create big plays after the catch. He can run away from defenders, changes directions quickly and runs hard when faced with contact. On jump balls, Stepherson controls his body well to put him in position to beat defenders. He’s not afraid of catching the ball in traffic. Stepherson also brings talent in the return game. He’s fearless in the face of a punt or kickoff team and exploits creases with his speed to give his team good field positon.
He did what? (1:04) Stepherson uses good footwork to break down the cornerback and accelerate past him. As he hits full speed, his quarterback hits him with a pass slightly ahead of him. Stepherson reaches out to make the grab and doesn’t slow down in a race to the end zone … (4:37) As Stepherson’s quarterback scrambles, he switches from decoy to open receiver. He gets behind the cornerback, who is decides to rush the quarterback, and finds an opening in the secondary. The quarterback throws a pass behind Stepherson but he manages to catch it with one hand … (5:22) Stepherson hauls in a catch despite being surrounded by two defenders. The outside defender appears to out-jump Stepherson for the ball, but he still pulls it down in front of him.
Competition level: Stepherson played against much of the same competition as former Irish nose guard Louis Nix. Both played against the talented teams in northern Florida near Jacksonville. First Coast played against three teams in the top 30 of the MaxPreps Florida state rankings. He made two tough catches against Miami Central, the FHSAA Class 6A state champions. Stepherson scored two touchdowns against Raines (No. 28 in Florida and Nix’s alma mater).
Left to prove: Stepherson measured in a good two inches shorter than his reported height when he enrolled at Notre Dame earlier this month. It shouldn’t impact his stock much, but it will put a greater emphasis on his speed. Until he can prove to be a possession receiver, he’ll be labeled as a boom or bust receiver. He’ll need to become reliable in order to have the opportunity to make some of the big plays that he’s shown the ability to make. Finding ways to get open other than just pure speed will be the biggest adjustment for Stepherson.