It was a big day Saturday in both Hardy and Fayetteville.
Highland wide receiver Deon Stewart (6-1, 165) became Arkansas' eighth commit of the 2015 class when he pledged to be a Razorback Saturday before the Red-White game got started.
Stewart, whose school is in Highland – a town that was recently featured in the Discovery Channel reality show Clash of the Ozarks - chose Arkansas over other offers from Louisville, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Tulsa and Arkansas State as well as interest from Oregon and others.
He told Razorback head coach Bret Bielema on Saturday morning.
"We all sat down and we started talking a little bit and he asked if I thought I was ready to commit and I said ‘yes sir'," Stewart said. "He said are you sure and I said ‘yes sir'. He kind of jumped around and got all excited. We walked out to the tunnel where all the players come out and he told all of the coaches and they all came over and congratulated me."
A recent visit to an Arkansas practice helped him make the decision.
"It helped me realize a lot of stuff," Stewart said. "There's really nothing like being a Razorback and being an in-state kid I thought about life after football and how the community would take care of me because I was a Razorback and an in-state kid and that really means a lot to me."
Highland head coach Spencer Hill stressed how big a deal it was for Hardy, which was recently featured in the Discovery Channel reality series.
"I think it is actually bigger than Clash of the Ozarks," Highland head coach Spencer Hill said Saturday morning. "For the first time in our community that we've got a kid commit to the University of Arkansas to play football. It's a big deal – for our community and our football program and we are all just so proud of Deon. He is going to be a great ambassador for us here at the UofA."
Stewart, who was born in Newport, had 36 catches for 757 yards and eight touchdowns and also rushed 27 times for 448 yards and four more scores this past season.
"He is just a big-play kid that all coaches are looking for," Hill said. "I tell everybody he makes hard things look easy. That's his talent right there. He is an explosive play maker that is going to be a difference maker."
There are several schools that are coming by Highland during this spring evaluation period, but Hill doesn't think any will be able to sway Stewart from his pledge to Arkansas.
"I think it is pretty firm," Hill said. "He is 16 years old. He's young. He could be a sophomore right now so you never know how things go, but I know his heart was always here. I think him looking around a little bit probably solidified it that Arkansas is my home. I'll be shocked if he does, but I am sure other people will still be recruiting him."
Stewart and fellow Highland star Avery Johnson (6-2, 210) – a player Arkansas looks at as a safety prospect – gives the team two Division I prospects this season.
"Avery is a freakish athlete," Hill said. "In the recruiting world, if there is a word athlete that fits somebody, it's him. That is kind of what holds him back is that nobody knows what his true position is.
"I think he could play outside linebacker, I think he could play free safety. I think he could play receiver somewhere, too. He can do anything. He leaps so well. He is just another strong kid that has never trained before. He could easily get to 230 or 240 and play linebacker for sure."
Stewart Commits To Arkansas
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