Illinois has already hosted several key 2017 and 2018 recruits this summer. One key 2018 prospect from in-state powerhouse program Bolingbrook, visited this past week, and enjoyed his time on campus.
"(The visit) was great," Stewart said. "I got to see how Lovie is starting to turn the program around. It was my second time meeting him, so I enjoyed it."
Lovie Smith's hire at Illinois has given the Illini notoriety among recruits, especially those who grew up in the Chicago area. That includes Stewart.
"I grew up watching the Bears all the time," Stewart said. "My dad loves the Bears."
Stewart's recruitment took off rather quickly this spring as he landed offers from a number of Big Ten schools and drew interest from a handful of SEC schools.
Stewart is grateful for the schools recruiting him, but believes a lot more interest would have come sooner had he not suffered an injury before his sophomore season.
"I think my recruitment would have picked up faster if I didn't break my ankle right before the season," he said. "I had to work two times as hard to get back where I was and get my recruitment to where it was."
Bolingbrook High School has produced a wealth of college football talent over the last few years, including Antonio Morrison, Aaron Bailey, Parrker Westphal, Rob Bain, Jack Lynn, The Huff twins, Tuf Borland, and 2017 Illinois commit Kendall Smith.
Stewart looks up to some of the former greats in the program and hopes to live up to a similar legacy.
"I mean Antonio Morrison set the goal for the big picture since he's in the NFL now," Stewart said, "but people I have looked up to at Bolingbrook are Tuf Borland, Kendall Smith, and Joseph Coates."
Stewart has visited a handful of schools this spring and summer. He explained what he is looking for when he goes to each of the different campuses.
"(I look at) academics, the nutritional program for the athletes, and whether the coaching staff is trustworthy and stable. I want to major in sports management."
Lovie Smith's NFL experience is one thing that really stands out to Stewart. That pedigree is one of the key positives Illinois has working in its favor.
"I like the team aspect they have," Stewart said. "And Lovie of course stands out because he has NFL experience."
Stewart told Illini Inquirer that Illinois and Iowa are the two programs that have offered that are currently standing out to him, but that Arkansas has also been showing a lot of interest lately. Stewart visited the Razorbacks earlier this summer.