With Auburn's leading rushers Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown held out of the scrimmage to keep them healthy, Stewart led the Tigers' ground arsenal with 71 yards on 12 carries and also made a 27-yard reception
"I tried my best to get out there in a game-type situation, going full speed," Stewart says. "It was just a really good opportunity for me to try and fine tune everything before we start up in the fall."
Stewart's versatility running and catching the football could make him a valuable asset in 2004 with offensive coordinator Al Borges' playbook promising to prominently utilize the running backs as receivers at points in the season. If the Tiger coaches decide to redshirt junior tailback Tre Smith, Stewart will definitely be in line for lots of playing time.
Leading his team in rushing is nothing new to Stewart. While playing at Maryville, Tenn., High School, Stewart rushed for 3,491 yards and 50 touchdowns in his career. A Tennessee Mr. Football selection, Stewart is talented, powerful and full of potential. He demonstrated not only his speed, but his power in one of his more notable runs Saturday. When a dash up the middle of the Tiger defense left the 6-1, 212 Stewart head to head with safety Will Herring, Stewart knocked Herring off of his feet before tumbling on top of his tackler.
"It was a short-yardage situation so I had to go out full speed," Stewart says. "I knew we had to get the yards and it was a good situation for me. He kind of popped up in my face and I didn't see him until the last second so I didn't have any choice."
When asked if he compares himself to a Carnell Williams or Ronnie Brown-like runner, Stewart says the verdict remains to be seen. "I am not sure which way I am going right now," Stewart says. "Right now, I am just trying to work on the plays and everything else just comes naturally to me."
With the depth that Auburn has in the running back position, Stewart is not sure where he will be in the offense. As for now, Stewart is listed as the fourth-string tailback behind Williams, Brown and Smith, who has been mentioned to possibly redshirt in 2004, but Stewart has also seen time at fullback.
"We've been working and trying to learn multiple positions," Stewart says. "Fullback would definitely be a good opportunity, especially if I can put on a little more weight. That's all in the coaches‚ eyes. I am going to go out and do the best that I can and where ever they see to fit me, that's where I am going to be."
Stewart runs for yardage in a spring training scrimmage earlier this year.
While some athletes would be uncomfortable with spending a year in the shadows of backs like Brown a Williams, Stewart says he relishes the role of the young back playing behind talented veterans. "I definitely don't feel bad right now," Stewart says. "I am trying to learn as much as I can from the guys in front of me. At the end of the day, it gives me a chance to go out there and work on the things I am learning just by watching Ronnie and Carnell.
"I think it is a lot easier for me as a younger guy on the team with all the pitches going to the older guys," Stewart adds. "I get a lot of opportunities to concentrate on the things that I need to work on and it puts you kind of under the radar."