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March 15, 2012

Shepard leaves Notre Dame

The first commitment in Notre Dame's last recruiting class is now the program's first departure.

Notre Dame announced the departure of early enrollee Tee Shepard on Thursday morning in a release, stating that the former four-star recruit and Rivals100 prospect had returned home to his family in Fresno, Calif. Attempts to reach the family were unsuccessful.

"Tee is a special person and it's unfortunate it didn't work out here," head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. "Everyone at Notre Dame wishes him all the best in the future."

Notre Dame expected Shepard to compete for playing time and potentially a starting job next season with its cornerback position void of experience minus Robert Blanton and Gary Gray. The departure leaves the Irish with just four scholarship cornerbacks in Lo Wood, Bennett Jackson, Josh Atkinson and Jalen Brown. They have combined for zero career starts.

Shepard was viewed as arguably Notre Dame's most important signing of the last cycle, even over five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel. Shepard flirted with switching to USC late in his recruitment but enrolled in South Bend in mid-January.

However, Shepard's plans at Notre Dame quickly became unsettled when, after just a few weeks on campus, he watched cousin and former high school teammate Deontay Greenberry sign with Houston on National Signing Day.

Kelly was adamant about Shepard's commitment to Notre Dame at the time, although the head coach's words proved off track.

"He's always wanted to be at Notre Dame," Kelly said on Feb. 1.

Barely a month later, Shepard is gone.

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