Stephon Tuitt and his Monroe Area team had a huge basketball game scheduled Tuesday night. West Hall would be well-advised to look out below because Tuitt is likely to be flying high tonight.
On the same day that Tuitt was awarded a fifth star from the recruiting analysts at Rivals.com, Tuitt decided to switch his commitment from Notre Dame to Georgia Tech. Tuitt will be the highest-touted recruit ever to ink with Yellow Jackets when he signs on national signing day, according to JacketsOnline.com.
According to Tuitt, it was a difficult decision but one he’s been thinking about for a while.
“I think it’s where my heart was the whole time,” said the 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end. “I feel like I made a decision I can be comfortable with.”
Tuitt had been committed to Notre Dame since mid-September and entered the New Year still planning to play for the Fighting Irish. But Tech, which had been his leader before his official visit to South Bend last fall, never let up on him. So he agreed to make an official visit to The Flats this past weekend. And, that, as it turns out, was the clincher.
“Well, I knew the visit was going to go well,” said Tuitt, who has been to the Tech campus at least a half-dozen times since last summer. “I have a good time every time I go there and I’ve always been comfortable with all the coaches and all the players there. So I knew it’d be a great time and it was.
“I feel like Tech is building a great football team and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
The worst part, Tuitt said, was having to call the Notre Dame coaches.
“That was pretty hard,” he said. “[Notre Dame is] a great school and they have great coaches and players and I still believe that. It was a very hard phone call. But I had to do what was best for me and Georgia Tech is the best place for me.”
Tuitt made the decision after hunkering down with his mother the last two days and having a long conversation with Monroe Area head coach Matt Fligg Tuesday morning. He called Notre Dame coaches immediately after that meeting, then Tech head coach Paul Johnson.
He was excited,” Tuitt said of Johnson. “He said he was glad to have me be part of the program.”
Said Fligg: “I saw this coming, I just wasn’t sure what he’d do. He’s been thinking about it a while and just wanted to get it over with. He just wanted to be closer to home.”
Tuitt wasn’t even aware he had been awarded a five-star rating from Rivals until I informed him during our phone call. He had been carrying a four-star ranking from all the recruiting services since last summer. But he impressed Rivals’ scouts with his performance in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 8.
“I’m honored,” he said. “I had no idea. I don’t pay attention to to that type of thing.”
Tuitt was one of three Georgians to be elevated to a five-star rank by Rivals on Tuesday. Carver-Columbus running back Isaiah Crowell and Thomas County Central defensive end Ray Drew also were bumped up from four stars in what will be the final ranking released by the recruiting site this year.
Tuitt is the 22nd commitment for the Yellow Jackets’ Class of 2011, fourth in the last three days and the second from Monroe Area High School. His teammate and good friend Demontevious Smith committed to Tech during his official visit this past Sunday.
Tuitt is the fourth member of Tech’s class carrying more than a three-star rating. Linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days of Hillgrove High gets four stars from Rivals and quarterback Vad Lee of Durham, N.C., and defensive end Darrius Caldwell of Mays get four stars from ESPNU/Scouts Inc.
GEORGIA TECH 2011 COMMITMENTS