Steward's eyes set on Tallahassee

CLEMSON - Dabo Swinney pulled one of the biggest signing day coups of the 2011 haul when Clemson beat Florida State for Tony Steward's signature.



Steward's commitment before a nationally televised audience kicked off the most memorable signing days of the Swinney Era.

Though most of the signs appeared to be pointed toward Florida State, Clemson managed to hang around with the home state favorite. In the eleventh-hour, he opted to sign with the Tigers.

And now, in less three days, Steward will return to Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, the place most believed he would call home.

"I guess, getting to play against them, it's not necessarily a dream come true, but I just feel like it's going to be fun," he said. "It's going to be real competitive. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a four quarter game. It's just real exciting."

Even Steward once felt Florida State would be his college destination, not Clemson.

"I thought it was going to be the place that I committed [to]," he said. "I pretty much lived there for almost a couple of years during high school."

The sophomore from Saint Augustine, Fla. has some mixed feelings about this weekend's trip, and understandably so. For the better part of his high school career, Steward was welcomed with open arms each time he stepped on the Florida State campus.

That won't be the case on Saturday.

"I guess, kind of being there and being on the opposite end, it's going to feel kind of weird, different, foreign or whatever," he said. "It's going to be real exciting. Going back down to Tallahassee to play against the Seminoles is going to be a great opportunity."

After playing only on special teams in the first two games of the season, Steward logged 25 snaps against Furman. He finished the afternoon with six tackles [five solos].

"Really, my biggest thing was to get out there, try to play fast, play hard, [and] try to make plays," Steward said. "It felt pretty good being out there. It was exciting, the first snaps of defense this year. It was good to get out there and play, get the feel of the game again."

He's still learning the WILL linebacker position under first-year defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

"I think I'm coming along pretty decent, not as fast as I want to," Steward said. "I'm still making a few mistakes on certain calls, but I feel like I've just got to continue to study the defense and get in and watch some film, get a better grasp of it."

Perhaps, more importantly, his second surgically repaired knee feels just fine.

"Honestly, I would say that I'm 100 percent. I forget that I even had a knee injury. I can't remember the last-time I had pain in it," Steward said. "That's, obviously, a real good thing. And it hasn't been swelling or anything. It's real stable, no braces, no sleeves or anything. I'm just out there playing like normal."

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