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Four players dismissed from football team

| Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Less than a month after a Citrus Bowl victory, four Notre Dame football players have been dismissed from the team. 

According to a University spokesperson, junior defensive lineman Brandon Tiassum, sophomore wide receiver Kevin Stepherson, freshman running back C.J. Holmes and sophomore running back Deon McIntosh will all no longer be with the Irish going forward, bringing the Irish under the limit of 85 scholarships for the 2018 season.

Stepherson, Holmes and McIntosh were all suspended for the Citrus Bowl victory against LSU to close out the 2017 season, but Tiassum has never been publicly suspended by the Irish, though he has seen the field in only three games, all in 2017, over the course of his three-year Irish career.

Chris Collins | The Observer
Sophomore wide receiver Kevin Stepherson carries the ball against Stanford on November 25. Stepherson, along with three other players, was dismissed from the team.

Stepherson had the most productive career of the four. Although he arrived at Notre Dame as a three-star recruit, he played a major role in the Irish offense as a freshman in 2016 by catching 25 passes for 462 yards and five touchdowns, putting him second on the team in touchdown catches. In the 2017 season, he caught 19 passes for 359 yards and a team-leading five scores, while also rushing for 76 yards on five attempts. Over the eight-game period in which he played, he recorded more receiving yards than any other Irish player. Over his final two games for the Irish, Stepherson combined for 215 yards and three touchdowns.

However, Stepherson was also the player who faced the most disciplinary issues with the team. Before the 2016 season, he was one of five Irish players arrested in Fulton County and charged with marijuana possession, in an incident that saw safety Max Redfield dismissed from the team. Stepherson then missed the opening four games of the 2017 campaign, with Irish head coach Brian Kelly declining to confirm or deny whether he was suspended amid rumors that it was the case. Finally, Stepherson received an indefinite suspension before the Citrus Bowl, after two arrests in December, one for shoplifting at University Park Mall in Mishawaka and one for possession of marijuana, speeding and not having a valid driver’s license in Marshall County.

Holmes was also arrested for shoplifting alongside Stepherson. After arriving at Notre Dame as a four-star recruit and the No. 5 running back in his class, he saw very little action on offense with the Irish, carrying the ball only eight times for 32 yards, all at North Carolina with junior Dexter Williams, junior Josh Adams and sophomore Tony Jones Jr. all dealing with injuries. Also playing on special teams, he appeared in eight games for the Irish in the 2017 season.

Although McIntosh was the fourth running back on the depth chart after seeing no action in 2016, he finished third on the team in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, with 65 carries for 368 yards and five scores. Like Holmes, his career high came against North Carolina, when he ran 12 times for 124 yards and two scores. McIntosh was also suspended for the Citrus Bowl for a “violation of team rules.” With Josh Adams also leaving the Irish for the NFL draft, the team is down three running backs who carried the ball in 2017. The Irish will have only three scholarship running backs for the spring — Jones, Williams and early enrollee Jahmir Smith.

Tiassum saw his first action for the Irish in 2017 after arriving as a three-star recruit and made two tackles. His three appearances all came in the opening five games of the season, against Temple, Michigan State and Miami (OH), recording tackles against the Owls and the RedHawks.

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