Stewart could be best in west in 2005

Washington is not a traditional target state for the University of Tennessee. But the Vols and many other teams will be making a trip to the northwest to recruit one of 2005's top running back prospects in Jonathan Stewart of Timberline High School (Washington).

How good is Stewart? The buzz on the left coast is that Stewart was the best running back in the west last year, even ahead of players like Marshawn Lynch (California) and Terrell Jackson (Oregon). Stewart began to open eyes when he was named MVP at the 2003 Nike Camp in Eugene, despite the fact that most of the other participants were a year older than him. Stewart was later named as one of the five running backs on the Nike Camp All-American team. With all eyes focused on him, Stewart's junior campaign met some very lofty expectations. Stewart ran for over 2600 yards and an eye-popping 36 touchdowns en route to being named the 3A football player of the year in Washington.

So what sticks out about the 5-11, 215 lb runner? "I really think he has the whole package," notes Timberline head coach Kevin Young. "He's got speed, strength, and I think one of his hidden attributes is balance." Stewart's versatility is what will make defensive coordinators pull their hair out. Stewart looks comfortable running between the tackles or bouncing to the outside and turning the corner.

According to Coach Young, Stewart already has offers from Washington, Washington State, and Oregon, and he is also getting a lot of mail from Tennessee right now. So where do the Vols stand for this future star? "They're in there," Stewart says. "Tennessee's probably ranked fourth on my list right now." Stewart didn't say outright that his favorite was the University of Oregon, but he was the first and only team beside the Vols that he mentioned when I asked him about his favorites. Jonathan and Coach Young also said that Jonathan was very open at this point, so while it may be an uphill battle for the Volunteer staff, it's not an impossible goal.

Despite all of his outstanding accomplishments, Stewart is still very focused. "Off the field, I want to maintain or go above my 3.4 GPA.," Stewart says. On the field, I want to get at least 2000 yards rushing and I want to get 40 touchdowns." Stewart will take his SAT in May.

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