The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Dwight Stephenson, Jr.: Defender just the latest in a line of athletes

Dan Murphy | Friday, November 17, 2006

Dwight Stephenson is a family man, and the Stephensons are a football family.

The senior defensive tackle grew up in Delray Beach, Fla., with his parents, brother and sister.

“Everybody looks out for each other, and everything is based on working for the family,” he said. “The best thing I learned from my family is to know how to give to the people that you love.”

While at home, Stephenson attended Pope John Paul II High School where he played three sports – track and field, basketball, and football. He won three varsity letters in football and served as the captain for the Eagles in his senior season.

Then a linebacker, Dwight had 22 tackles for loss and 27 sacks in his senior campaign – good enough to earn him all-county honors and a spot in the Cali-Florida All-Star game.

Stephenson, who now wears No. 57 for the Irish, has a strong football pedigree. He was born to a hard-working mother and an NFL Hall of Famer. His father, Dwight Sr., spent four years at Alabama, where he was named an All-American center, before going on to play with the Miami Dolphins for seven years.

“He’s been around great football all of his life, but now I think he’s just proud to see his son playing football and trying his hardest.” Stephenson said.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder has battled a deep defensive line for playing time the past two seasons. Last year Stephenson played in six games for the Irish on defense and made nine appearances on special teams.

“I think the coaching staff just feels it’s unfair to unleash me on regular college football players, but when they do it’ll be quite an experience.” he said.

Stephenson had the same level of confidence when moving from his linebacker position to the defensive line after his freshman year. The only change was in the first few steps for him, after that he just needed to get to the ball.

When Stephenson isn’t waiting to be unleashed on the gridiron, he spends his time working on a degree in management from the Mendoza College of Business.

“As long as football is available to me I’ll be chasing it,” he said. “But my second passion is in business, I love big business.”

Stephenson is interested in development companies and investment banking. Football has kept from gaining as much as experience as he would like to, but he has managed to find ways to get a taste of the business world.

He has spent short stints interning with several companies and has done a lot of work with his father who now runs a Florida construction company. Sometime down the road, he wouldn’t mind getting himself into sports management.

In the meantime, he has more pressing issues on his mind. This Saturday against the Black Knights may be the last time that Stephenson has the privilege of running out of the tunnel to the tune of 80,000 screaming Irish fans. He isn’t too worried about the end quite yet.

“It’s going to be exciting at that time, but after the game it will be more present [that it’s over], before then we have a game to play … my mind is going to be focused on [kicking] Army’s butt.”