Stone between proverbial rock and hard place

Steven Stone has his college choice down to two schools after visiting Vanderbilt officially earlier this week, but the choice will be a difficult one.

It's down to two schools for defensive end prospect Steven Stone of Conway (Ark.) High School. The 6-6, 230-pounder took a midweek official visit to Vanderbilt earlier this week, and says he will soon be making his selection between the Commodores and Rice. Both schools have offered.

"The visit to Vanderbilt went really well, but I didn't commit," Stone said Wednesday. "It's down to Rice and Vanderbilt. As soon as I figure it out, I'll let them know."

For a student with Stone's academic profile (he scored a 32 on his ACT), he could hardly go wrong with either choice. Both schools are looking at him to play defensive end.

"They're both great academic institutions," he said. "They both have great coaching staffs. They're really similar. I like both of them a lot. I'm just trying to figure out which one would be the best fit for me.

"I learned a lot about Vanderbilt on my visit. It was a lot of information. I talked to some academic advisors, and met four of the coaches who were on campus. I toured the athletic facilities. We also took a little tour of Nashville."

Defensive line coach Theo Young has been recruiting Stone for the Owls, while Jimmy Kiser has been the point man for the Commodores. The two schools are more alike than different, but what are the biggest differences Stone noticed?

"Vanderbilt's in the SEC, and that's the biggest difference for me. It's a little bigger school, and a little different atmosphere. Nashville's a lot different from Houston. They both want me, and I'm very interested in both schools."

Arkansas tried to convince him to walk on, but that won't happen, he said. Ole Miss has shown some interest, as well as Conway-based Central Arkansas.

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Stone had already received state-wide accolades for his prowess as a forward/center on the Conway basketball squad, and had played basketball last summer for the AAU Arkansas Wings. But Coach Kenny Smith helped convince Stone that if he put his mind to football, a major-college scholarship might be forthcoming; at the moment, it appears Stone was a prophet.

After a senior season in which he registered 87 total tackles playing exclusively as a defensive end, Stone earned All-State, All-Faulkner County and All-Academic honors.

"We have about a five-and-a-half-minute film clip that we sent out to the various schools," said Smith. "He's knocking down passes, blocking punts, chasing people down.

"Due to being a two-sport guy, he's not really been in the weight room as much as he will be now. Once he declares himself a one-sport guy, he could carry 255 or 260 pounds easy. He's about 225 or 230 right now."

Those who think of Stone as merely a tall basketball player who's giving football a try are mistaken, says Smith.

"He's played football since the seventh grade. He has a great passion for the game of football. He just happens to be 6-6. He was an All-State selection and an All-Conference selection in our conference. We used him exclusively at defensive end. He's a heck of a player, and he has a 32 on the ACT, so he's a special kid."

"I'm sure now that my future is in football," said Stone, who also plays forward and center for the Conway Wampus Cats in basketball. "I've played AAU basketball every summer, and that's kind of been a big thing for me."

In football, he's a long-armed, rangy D-end who specializes in rushing the passer. "I've always been able to use my arms pretty well," he says. "I love to hit, and I go out and give it my all every play."

"He's had some other schools look at him, but Rice and Vanderbilt are the only offers he has that are on the table," said Smith. "Because of his strong academic background, he's going to make a choice between those two. He's not entertaining any thoughts from anyone else."


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