Highland wide receiver Deon Stewart (6-1, 163) was pretty sure of making his commitment to Arkansas back in April, but a text from his future quarterback sealed the deal.
So after that text from Charleston signal caller Ty Storey, Stewart jumped in with both feet on April 26th right befor the Razorbacks' Red-White game got underway in Fayetteville.
"I texted Ty and asked him what made him commit and he sent me a long text (back)," Stewart said. "I just kept reading it and there were a lot of points that stood out to me and that just really hit the spot. He just was pretty much talking about how the coaches all care about our family and how they are all real personable with us. He was just talking about life after college, how the town of Fayetteville is going to take care of me and it would be really great."
Both young men are at Arkansas' high school camp this week and Stewart says he has loved the reaction from his hometown of Hardy, where Highland High School is located.
"It's been great," Stewart said. "Everybody has been supporting me, telling me they are going to come watch me when I get up here. Everyone is just real happy that I have decided to stay in state. My friends and I are happy they are going to be able to come see me, too."
Stewart chose Arkansas over Ole Miss. Louisville , Tulsa, Southern Miss and Arkansas State and also had Oregon drop by Hardy in the spring only to hear he had committed to the Razorbacks.
"It was pretty exciting getting schools from that far from here noticing me," Stewart said. "They kind of dialed it down on talking to me once I committed to Arkansas – especially since I am an in-state kid – but they told me that if anything happens with the commitment that they would have a coach call and we would start talking again."
Stewart, who was born in Newport, had 36 catches for 757 yards and 8 touchdowns and also rushed 27 times for 448 yards and four more scores last season.
He knows he is not a finished project and that is one of the reasons he wanted to come to camp and get instruction from the Razorback coaches.
"It's going pretty good," Stewart said. "I'm getting out here and learning a lot of new stuff – how to run my routes better, how come up out of them better. We have been working on stances and moves to beat the guy whenever he is pressing us and just going over basics."
He is enjoying the time with Arkansas receivers coach Michael Smith.
"I like Coach Smith a lot," Stewart said. "I think me and him are going to have a really good relationship once I get here. We already have a pretty good relationship now, but I think once I get up here and start seeing him every day, it will be just a great relationship."
"I think my best thing is just getting open, but I think the things I need to work on are things like when I come to the top of my route, I tend to break down and completely stop and then go again," Stewart said. "I need to work on cutting and just coming up out of that and not stopping."
He and Storey have been able to start the on-field bonding process.
"It's going to take a little bit to get used to each other," Stewart said. "He has to get used to my speed and I've got to get used to the way he throws. We have been out here working and every time he goes up, I try to go up and just get that little special connection."
Stewart is hoping that his teammate – linebacker/safety Avery Johnson will eventually get an offer as well, but a strained quad injury on Sunday sidelined Johnson for the rest of camp.
Johnson (6-1, 213) will be back in Juy 24 and hoping to add Arkansas to a list that includes Southern Miss and Arkansas State.
"I am really hoping that he gets that scholarship from Arkansas," Stewart said. "It is going to be great when we are both here playing. I think if he gets offered a scholarship here he will go back and speak with his family and I think he will end up going here."
Johnson was obviously disappointed in the injury.
"I can't really do anything because of my quad and I hate that, but I am going to be back in July for camp," Johnson said. "I should be good then. I am going to do everything I can to be good then.
"...By being here, I am trying to show everything I have and trying to get a scholarship," Johnson added. "Obviously I would love to come here. It has always been a dream to play here. So the biggest thing is just showing them what I have to offer."
Johnson played all over the field for Highland while rushing 62 times for 662 yards with 10 touchdowns, having 32 catches for 449 yards and six more scores and also racking up 35 tackles, six interceptions and one fumble recovery.
He was just coming off a strong performance at Oklahoma State, where the Cowboys staff looked at him at linebacker.
"I played linebacker at Oklahoma State and really loved it and it felt more natural to me," Johnson said. "I think that is where I am really going to like and do, but it is all up to them. I will play anywhere I need to be."
Johnson says he has been told he is in line for an offer at Oklahoma State and Memphis, where former Arkansas assistant James Shibest is now coaching.
"...I talked to Oklahoma State right after their camp and they have offered three guys at that position, but the coach that I was talking to said he is not going to let them hold them hostages all summer, which if they are not going to take it then I am going to be right there for it," Johnson said. "Coach Shibest over Memphis told me that I was right there again.
"That's kind of where I am with most people – they just don't know where to put me," Johnson added.
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