Stewart commits...Boards Crash

With over 300 subscribers in eDuck chat, Jonathan Stewart announced on <I>KING5</i> in Seattle that he was going to become an Oregon Duck. The announcement was aired on <i>KFXX 1080 </i> in Portland with <i>KGW</i> sports anchor Ron Pivo relating what was going on. Two minutes after Stewart announced his decision to be a Duck, eDuck message board crashed.

Stewart, the No. 1 running back in the country this year picked the Ducks over Washington State after agonizing over his decision for the last few days. Last week during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Stewart indicated he had narrowed his choices to three, Oregon, WSU and Tennessee but after returning to the Northwest from San Antonio, he dropped the Volunteers from his list.

Stewart, 5-10, 220, will greatly enhance the Oregon 2005 recruiting class bringing a combination of great balance, strength and speed to the running back position. Many expect that he is the type of player that is a "program maker."

Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti, currently in Hawaii to coach in the Hula Bowl had said after the end of the 2004 season that the Oregon coaching staff would seek playmaker in the 2005 recruiting class and certainly Stewart fills that bill. He set Washington 3A football records by gaining a career 7,757 rushing yards and was named Washington Gatoraide Player of the Year.

eDuck Sports first became aware of Stewart at the Nike Camp held at the University of Oregon in June 2003. Stewart, nicknamed Snoop, was clearly the most impressive athlete at the camp of over 250 participants from around the Northwest. He had just completed his sophomore year in high school and had an impressive 37.5-inch vertical leap. Next fall, Stewart will return to the Eugene campus and take his place in an incoming freshman and junior college transfer class that will hope to help the Ducks recover from a disappointing 5-6 record in 2004.

While watching the All-American Bowl last week in the Alamodome in San Antonio, it struck this writer how similar Stewart was in stature to a man that was in the broadcast booth just one floor above in the NBC broadcast booth -- Barry Sanders. Stewart is a very quite, polite young man that responds respectfully and in a soft voice to questions asked him. The recruiting process for Stewart became a very big story not only for the University of Oregon and Washington State but also for the entire Pacific Northwest. The amount of attention drawn on this quiet young man was intense and now that he has made his decision he most likely will go back to doing the things he indicated he would -- preparing for next season.

Athletes are not bound by verbal commitments. This year, the National Letter of Intent can not be sent in until February 2, 2005. Currently, the Ducks have 16 known verbal commitments.

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