Notre Dame Football: Young Studs Who Will Start to Shine for Irish

Michelle McConnaugheyContributor IIIOctober 2, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22: Members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish including Josh Atkinson #43 pray in the end zone before taking on the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Michigan 13-6.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The pressure for Notre Dame football is on. The Fighting Irish have started their season with an undefeated record of 4-0, but the season is far from over.

Head Coach Brian Kelly has a team full of talent this year. Seniors Theo Riddick and Manti Te'o have been leading the Irish, but now, the younger players have the opportunity to step it up.

The Irish defense has been unstoppable this season. In the past two games, which were against Michigan and Michigan State, neither team could score a touchdown on the ND defense. However, the offense has not been as unstoppable.

The real concern with the offense has been the question of the quarterback. But now, that can change. 

Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson has been under constant pressure to keep up with the success of his team. With four wins under his belt, it’s time for Everett to shine. His completion percentage is 52.6, but that gives him growing room.

He is a younger athlete on a strong team. He also did not have any playing time his freshman year. Now that he’s getting the experience on the field, he will be able to rise to the challenge and make his mark on the ND offense. 

Senior linebacker Te’o has been getting a majority of the credit for the Irish defense. He’s had 38 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, which has put him into consideration for the Heisman. But another sophomore is also ready for more of the spotlight. 

Defensive end Stephon Tuitt showed off his skills in the first game of the season against Navy. In that opener, he returned a fumble for a 77-yard touchdown. Throughout the past four games, Tuitt has had six sacks, ranking him second in the nation behind Florida State’s Bjoern Werner.  

Last Friday, ESPN reported Tuitt was added to the Bednarik Award watch list. The Bednarik Award is given to the best defensive player in the nation. This will definitely fire up Tuitt even more and allow him to reach his full potential. 

These two sophomores have had a good start to the season, but they have the potential to stand out even more.

Notre Dame has a very tough schedule for the rest of the season, including this week’s game against Miami in Chicago. But now it’s time for these two young players to step up and continue to lead their team to a winning season.