After all the waiting, Golden West (Calif.) College defensive end Justin Stewart is thrilled to have found his new home at Iowa State.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound JUCO prospect didn’t sign with a school on Signing Day in February, but as he now nears the finish of school, the recruiting interest had drastically picked up in recent months. The likes of Washington State, Syracuse, New Mexico, Northern Illinois and others offered, but after a weekend trip to Ames, Stewart ended his recruitment Wednesday with a commitment.
“Honestly, everybody you can think of has called me. Coming out of JUCO I was pretty much a grades person, so everybody just kind of wanted to make sure my grades were straight before anything major happened,” Stewart said. "[Iowa State] stuck with me for so long and then when I was up there, the playing situation, which was pretty much come in and compete, it was just the right choice.”
Iowa State offered Stewart in late January, though he wasn’t in a position to sign. Stewart, who would be eligible immediately and have two years to play two, is nearing the end of his coursework at Golden West and is confident he’ll arrive in Ames sometime in mid-July.
“I just have to finish this class,” Stewart said of what remains. “My classes are finished on July 11 and then there’s a little waiting period where I have to send in my official transcripts and stuff and then I’m done.”
What Iowa State gets in Stewart is an athletic pass-rusher who tallied 40 tackles, including 12 sacks, in 11 games as a sophomore last fall.
The Cyclones envision Stewart competing at the defensive end/linebacker hybrid Leo spot, where the team currently has Gabe Luna and Darius White.
“That’s the position I’m playing is Leo. It’s the same position I played in junior college, so there’s no change. It’s the same exact thing,” Stewart said. “Pretty much [Eli Rasheed] compared me to [a] defensive end for the Packers. He said, ‘Your get-off is so fast off the ball. You play exactly like him.’ He was like, ‘You’re so fast, we don’t have a pass-rusher and that’s what we need.’”
With a scholarship still open, Stewart’s fit helped Iowa State add immediate depth to a defensive line that includes seven seniors but little Big 12 experience.
His vision is set squarely on making an immediate impact.
“I’m coming in and trying to take people’s spots. I’m not going to play games,” Stewart said. “I only have two years to play, so I’m coming in with a chip on my shoulder trying to put up the stats and help the team any way I can.”