Romancing the Stone

Rice has offered Conway defensive end Steven Stone (6-6, 225, 4.8) a scholarship and he is also getting interest from Arkansas and South Carolina.

Conway's Peyton Hillis certainly helped the University of Arkansas football program in the 2004 season, but it's uncertain if the next best Wampus Cat will be matriculating to Fayetteville to help the Razorbacks in the future.

Steven Stone, a 6-6, 225-pound all-state defensive end and all-state basketball star as well, has a scholarship offer from Rice in hand and has drawn interest from Arkansas and South Carolina as well.

That offer from Rice head coach Kenny Hatfield - made on Stone's official December trip to Houston - has the Owls at the top of his list currently.

"I am definitely considering Rice," Stone said. "I really like the coaches and it is definitely a school that is very much an option. It was a great visit and I enjoyed everything about it. It's a great school and I am considering it pretty heavily.

Indeed Stone, who runs a 4.8 40-yard dash, knows he is in line to get a Chancellor's Scholarship at Arkansas because he has been as solid in the classroom as he has on the field.

"Arkansas is up there, but I am just not sure I want to walk on," Stone said. " I can get an academic scholarship there, but I am just not sure if I want to turn down an actual football offer from Rice. The fact that they are willing to put it out there for me."

Stone, who had over 80 tackles and six sacks this season, has grown up cheering on the Razorbacks. That's something that's obviously in their favor.

"Arkansas is a great program and it would be fun to get up there with Peyton and be a Razorback," Stone said. "I just have to weight that against the offer from Rice."

South Carolina is the latest entrant to show interest in Stone, who boasts a 4.03 grade point average and missed part of his junior season when he broke his elbow in two places.

" South Carolina has shown a little interest through (new defensive coordinator) John Thompson," Stone said. "I'll just have to see how that plays itself out."

Stone's basketball team gave up a 10-point lead and and then lost a 45-44 heartbreaker to visiting Little Rock McClellan Tuesday night in its AAAAA-Central conference opener and fell to 8-4 overall on the season.

"That was a tough one," Stone said. "I think we should have handled them. But we just have to get back up off the floor and get back at it."

Stone originally thought his prowess in basketball would lead him to signing a hoops scholarship and both UALR and Arkansas State have shown interest.

The power forward has enough leaping ability that he blocked 12 shots in a 48-45 win over Blytheville last season in the first round of the state playoffs.

But he has decided to go the gridiron route after thinking it over bit.

"I think I am going to go with football," Stone said. "That's what I want to do. Everybody I have talk to sees me as a defensive end and I think I have a chance to have a better career on the football field than I do on the basketball coach."

Conway, after experiencing it's best ever three-year period of success with Parade All-American running back Hillis leading the way, fell to a mark of 5-5 this season and lost out on its conference's fourth state playoff spot in a tiebreaker.

"I did a lot better than I thought I would this year individually, but it's tough having a season like that especially coming off last year," Stone said. " "I have got to work on getting off my block with the swim, but I did okay batting down passes and making tackles. Hopefully I'll continue to develop, get bigger and become a great player on the next level."

Stone, whose team at least ended its season with a 17-10 win over playoff-bound Little Rock Catholic said Tuesday night that he will likely make his decision on which way to go before the national signing date of Wednesday, Feb. 2.

"I'm not in that big of a hurry," Stone said. "It's a big decision. I'll just do some thinking about it and try to figure it all out."

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