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January 4, 2013

For Notre Dame's Tuitt, it's all about a promise

(Continued)

“That was the one time I almost fell down a little bit, because it was like, whoa, I wanted to do this to try to see him,” Tuitt said of his father’s death. “I had to find something else to give me that drive. I found it really fast.

“It’s still for my family and also for myself now. I want to be able to do something exciting for myself. I want to be able to move on and be that better guy when I have a little young one.”

Plan A, and Plan B

The plan is this: Stephon Tuitt will graduate from Notre Dame.

The certainty is this: Barring catastrophe and assuming natural improvement, Tuitt will be staring down a first-round NFL draft projection for April 2014. It is not far-fetched to contend that, but for fellow freak Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, no one would hear his name called before Tuitt does.

“You have to realize: They’re figures,” Bartlett said of the chatter about NFL millions. “You don’t have it yet. You have to still jump through hoops and do everything else. You don’t have to do any of that while you’re still in school. Get your degree first. We’re still maintaining. I work. I don’t need all of that. I don’t care about any of that.”

At the moment, Tuitt smiles and describes himself as “one happy sophomore.”

He already has plans to volunteer on a farm this summer, actually. Tossing bales of hay, he figured, is a way to help while improving his strength. No, Notre Dame has not seen anything like Tuitt in a long time, as a handful of people discovered at a mall in October.

Tuitt left his wallet on a food court table. It was stolen, then returned anonymously to security without the cash inside. Everything else remained. When an officer wanted to confirm the wallet’s rightful owner, Tuitt pointed to his driver’s license.

“I said, that’s me,” Tuitt recalled. “I don’t think nobody else is walking around here like that.”

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©2013 Chicago Tribune

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