RECRUITING: Kendrick Stewart - The Disrupter

Disruptions had been synonymous with a trip to "The Swamp." Unfortunately, that edge has waned in recent years. Urban Meyer figures to once again register the Gators' home as America's Tourist Trap for Prospects. Lakeland High School defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart is a disruptive force who is interested in speaking with Meyer about energizing the Florida faithful.

Stewart disrupted some of the best in Florida while leading his team to the Class 5A state championship. The Dreadnaughts defeated St. Thomas Aquinas 31-7 just four weeks ago. A few days ago, Stewart recorded four tackles, two tackles for loss, and two sacks against the California All-Star Team in the Orange Bowl.

"Those guys could really play," said Stewart. "They doubled teamed me a lot. I got rolled up a couple of times, but I was fought through a few. I had to get off of the blocks. They ran a lot of screens, so I figured that out and dropped back to let the other guys get pressure and hopefully, get over and make something happen."

I've seen Stewart play three times this season, and he always seems to make something happen. Whether making the play or creating enough havoc which allowed fellow defensive tackle John Brown to make plays, Stewart is a force with which to be reckoned.

There are three things that stand out about Kendrick Stewart: He has tremendous strength, a full tank with a big motor, and athleticism.

One of the staples of Meyer's Utah defensive front was their tremendous strength. Defensive linemen Sione Pouha (475), Steve Fifita (460), and Kite Afeaki (430) all posted impressive numbers on the bench (in parenthesis) and squats. Heart, not height, is a Meyer requirement, as four of the Utes defensive linemen were 6'1 and under. Pouha and Fifita were All Conference selections. Fifita and Afeaki are also both 6'1 or under.

"I'm benching 425 right now. I have the strength. Warren Sapp is my favorite player. I've been told many times that I play like Sapp. And I'm athletic too" he said.

For those who haven't seen Stewart play, he can cartwheel and flip with the best of them, as he did after sacking the California quarterback in Sunday night's game. Not bad for a guy who is 6'1 265. He usually plays heavier, but he played quite a bit both ways for the Dreadnaughts and has been spending a lot of time running in preparation for the CaliFlorida Bowl and basketball. To further demonstrate his athleticism, Stewart can also dunk a basketball.

Stewart is also very coachable. Stewart likes to talk about various techniques and the advantages of leverage to get an offensive lineman to work against himself.

"I can jab them with one hand and use my other hand to get them moving and knock them off balance or go by them. I think that I'm a smart player and I carry out my assignments," the first team All-State selection said.

"I'm quick off of the ball. I won't stop until I've gotten the job done. I have a motor, so I'll just keep coming at you. I depend on my teammates to do their job, and they can depend on me to do mine. You just don't take plays off. You've got to keep running. Keep running and good things will happen. Coach [Dan] Talbot taught me that last year. On some plays, I would slow down and take an angle. He taught me to keep running all out and just run to the ball. Never give up or slow down on the play. Make something happen," recalls Stewart.

The former Florida staff wasn't sold on Stewart, probably in part because he doesn't have the desired height that some coaches prefer.

"They haven't come out and said that, but I certainly think that it has hurt me. I do believe that." he said. "Coach Locksley has called. I talked to my coach and he said that he thinks they're going to offer me. The old staff they didn't really recruit me, but the new staff is recruiting me. So I really hadn't heard from them, but now I'm starting to hear from them. I'm looking to set a visit up at Florida. I hope the Gators do offer."

However, until they do, several teams are quickly lining up for his attention.

"Right now, I like UF, FSU, and Georgia. I don't think I'll go to Georgia though, it's too far away from home. Jeff Owens [Plantation] is trying to get me to go to Georgia. I think they're trying to get Vlad and Gerald to take a visit together up there too. I didn't visit Florida State yet. I visit them January the 21st. They have offered me a scholarship. I'd like to stay in the state of Florida. I took a trip to Iowa and no way. It's too cold up there. There's nothing there but hills, trees, cornfields, and lots of cold."

One other thing that Kendrick Stewart has is friends -- lots of 'em. He lived in Ft. Lauderdale and hung around a couple of other guys who the Gators would like to sign on an LOI come February, Gerald Williams and Vladimir Richard.

"I lived down in Ft. Lauderdale in 2000, but moved to Lakeland. I got to know Vlad and Gerald real well. We're good friends. It was great to play on the same team with those guys in the (CaliFlorida) game. I still talk to them a lot and remain good friends with them," Stewart said.

If the three disruptive neighbors end up regrouping in Gainesville, the swagger could be well on its way to returning to "The Swamp."

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