Notre Dame received its 8th in the 2016 recruiting class tonight with the commitment from receiver Kevin Stepherson. He is listed with good size at 6-2 and 180 pounds; the 247 Composite has him as the #622 overall player, #97 receiver, and #88 player in Florida. Those rankings definitely qualify Stepherson for #underrated status. He was holding additional offers from Florida, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, and North Carolina among the top teams.
I'm officially committed to the University of Notre dame pic.twitter.com/Kade5dnCri— Kevin Stepherson (@KevinStepherson) June 20, 2015
Stepherson comes out of First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida where he averaged a very healthy 22.9 yards per reception and scored 11 touchdowns on just 33 receptions as a junior in 2014.
Recruiting Service Rankings
Rivals - 3 star (5.7 rating), NR overall, #62 position, #86 in Florida
247 - 3 star (86 rating), #811 overall, #119 position, #88 in Florida
ESPN - ungraded/unranked
Scout - 3 star, NR overall, #176 position (WR)
247 Composite - 3 star (0.8570 rating), #622 overall, #97 position, #88 in Florida
Stepherson displays a few of the attributes I love to see out of a receiver: burst out of his stance, quick feet, and the ability to change directions without slowing down. With his above-average size and good speed there's a lot of potential for someone already scoring touchdowns every third touch in Florida high school.
I was initially surprised that Notre Dame took Stepherson's commitment at this point in the cycle with a loaded depth chart at receiver and (for now) a projected class on the smaller side. To me, this signals the staff expects a larger class than projected (we're still chasing a traditional wideout and flex slot player) and duh, they like Stepherson a whole lot more than the recruiting services to date.
Absent some major changes (Fuller leaves early, a couple guys switch positions) it'll be tough for Stepherson to crack the rotation as a freshman, and maybe even as a sophomore. If he does he will have been one of the true national gems from this class and someone with 5-star skills. The current depth chart is just that deep and talented.
Long Term / Career
As mentioned, it's tough to project anyone without Michael Floyd-type college readiness to come in and play right away as a receiver at Notre Dame. Over the long-term I've seen many comparisons to Chris Brown and Stepherson does seem like a not-as-fast but a little shiftier version of him. Also, some comparisons to incoming Irish wideout Jalen Guyton wouldn't be totally unfair, either.
By his sophomore year we should see if Stepherson is beginning to push for time on the two-deep. Welcome to the family, Kevin!