SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Stephon Tuitt showed up to fall camp weighing 322 pounds, more fitting for a defensive tackle than defensive end. But coach Brian Kelly isn't concerned about Tuitt's weight or conditioning, and said everything involving Tuitt's size can be traced back to the hernia operation he had earlier this year.
Kelly explained that Tuitt wasn't able to work out his core for three and a half months due to the operation, which placed a mesh web in his abdomen.
"It wasn't because he decided to eat Cheetos on the couch and not work out," Kelly said. "He had to do a different workout."
Tuitt, almost universally tabbed as a first-round draft pick next year if he leaves Notre Dame after his junior season, has been doing the same amount of work in practice. Kelly didn't sound concerned that Tuitt's weight would affect his performance this fall, either, and said the defensive end has actually got stronger despite having more body fat.
Kelly also doesn't see whittling down Tuitt's body fat as a difficult endeavor. But Tuitt's ability to stay on the field longer is of greater importance with backup Tony Springmann at least out for the Temple game, and perhaps beyond that. Ishaq Williams is taking snaps at defensive end, a position that's now looking thin on depth.
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Williams said Tuitt's still the same guy he was last year, though, and even if he's not Kelly doesn't think it's his fault.
"I know he's been asked a lot of questions, and I kind of want to defend the kid a little bit in this instance, that he didn't go off the reservation and decide he was going to east bad food," Kelly said. "He's done what we've asked him to do."