Just another game for Steward

CLEMSON - There was a time when playing against Florida State was a big deal for Tony Steward. But those feelings have dissipated with time.

Clemson, Florida State and UCLA were the finalists for Steward when he was a four-star prospect at Pedro Menendez High School in Saint Augustine, Fla. And most pundits had Steward pegged as a Florida State lock before he sat down in front of the ESPN cameras and revealed his National Signing Day surprise.

Over two years have passed since then.

"I think, the biggest thing [was] my freshman year," Steward said. "Pretty much after that, it goes away. You start looking at every single game as the next game on the schedule, the next obstacle that you have to get past.

"I don't think it's a big deal anymore. I just look at it as another game."

He added, "Honestly, because it's Florida State, it's not a big deal to me anymore. I'm just looking forward to getting out on the field and helping the team."

Before this season, there hadn't been too many opportunities for Steward to help out during his Clemson career, largely because of knee injuries.

Mostly used on special teams during his freshman and sophomore season, his impact on the defense was minimal, at best. Steward played only 109 snaps during his first 18 games as a Tiger.

He's had an expanded role this season as the backup to the team's second leading tackler, Spencer Shuey. Through six games, Steward has 16 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack in 73 snaps.

There hasn't been a bigger play in Steward's Clemson career than the fourth quarter strip/sack of Chase Rettig that resulted in a scoop and score in Clemson's 24-14 win over Boston College.

"I've definitely been waiting a long time to contribute, especially playing on defense," Steward said.

Initially, Brent Venables called in a different play from the sideline.

"Then, they did a few of their shifts. We checked to the play. I was actually helping them with the play that we were going to check to. We kind of went over what would happen if we called that play," Steward said. "Once we checked that play, I just had to be patient and wait for that play to unfold. He started scrambling weak and that was it."

Fellow class of 2011 Stephone Anthony was on the field, too.

"It couldn't have happened to a better guy," Anthony said. "He deserves it. He's persevered through so much. People wanted to count him out. I love him like a brother. Tony's going to be just fine."

He'll be even better if Clemson remains undefeated with a win over Florida State.

"I'll always love to win a big game like this. Definitely, since I have a lot of friends that go there, it would be nice to kind of go home and not have to hear them," Steward said. "Hopefully, we get this win and every other win."

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