Before he even got back on I-45, he had picked up his first offer.
“For SMU to be my first offer means a lot to me,” Stuard said. “SMU was one of my goal schools. Like, SMU is one of my top five schools already. I love their academics, I love everything about it. I was really surprised to get an offer from one of my favorite schools.”
SMU has been keeping an eye on Stuard since he was a freshman. At 6-0, 193 pounds, Stuard is a very explosive and very dynamic linebacker. He can drop back in coverage, stuff the run, and get around the edge to put pressure on the quarterback.
In two varsity seasons, he has 86 tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles.
“Coach Justin Stepp and Coach Archie McDaniel had been in contact with me and they said they were very interested in me,” Stuard said. “So we went to SMU’s junior day and got to see the campus and everything the school has to offer. At the end of junior day, they let me know that I was a linebacker from the 2017 class that they wanted. I was astonished really. I didn’t know how to react.”
One of the most impressive things Stuard took away from his visit was the demeanor of all SMU’s coaches.
“It seemed like every coach was the head coach,” he said. “I knew who Chad Morris was, but every single coach gave off that head coach kind of vibe. They were just really sincere with everything they said.”
Staurd also said that after offering him, the SMU staff sat down with him and explained what would happen next--something that further reinforced his first impression of the staff.
“Them knowing it was my first offer, sat down and explained to me: what this offer would do, what it means, what commitment means if I commit to them,” he said. “There hasn’t been a coaching staff that I talked to yet, that seemed to be interested in me moving forward as an athlete, even if it isn’t with their program—that really impressed me about SMU and its coaching staff.”
Within 24 hours of receiving his SMU offer, Stuard picked up his second from Louisiana-Lafayette.
And though he has already received an offer from one of his top target schools, Stuard says he is very excited about the rest of his recruiting process, because you never know what might be the right fit.
“You can’t look at it as D1, D2 or whatever—school is school,” he said. “You have to look at every college and all that they have to offer. Not just football but also academics. You have to talk to people that graduated from that school and see what tools did that college give them for real life. So maybe a team went 13-0, but what about the schools academics? What are graduates from this school doing now? That plays a lot into committing or not. Coach Morris told us, it’s not just a four-year plan; it’s more like a 55-year deal.”