As a Recruit
Coming out of Benedictine Military School in Savannah, Ga., Stewart was a three-star recruit who quickly became a fan-favorite for the Georgia Tech followers. While he received a lot of praise from AJC writer Mark Bradley, a lot of the hype came from his highlights, specifically this one:
He received a lot of praise for his athleticism and jumping abilities. He didn't receive a scholarship pretty late in the cycle.
Coming in as a true freshman, not a ton of people expected Stewart to get a whole lot of playing time, but with everything that happened with Micheal Summers this past year (from injuries to leaving the team), the exact opposite happened.
Stewart ended up being the No. 2 receiver for a big chunk of the season. He finished with seven catches for 93 yards and no touchdowns. He also had one carry for -10 yards and a seven-yard punt return.
He had two very memorable games this season. The first was his best game statistically from this season, when he caught three passes for 45 yards against UNC. The other game was Florida State where he had one reception: a 36-yard pass on fourth down late in the fourth quarter.
The fact that Stewart even played this year says two things to me. First it says that we did not have a ton of depth at receiver this year, which is evident by the fact that we had three players who are listed as receivers who actually caught a pass this year.
The other thing it says to me is that Stewart has the potential to be a good receiver, and that he was one of the best receivers on the roster this year. In his recruiting class, most people (myself included) saw both Christian Philpott and Harland Howell as guys who had a much higher ceiling than Stewart, but Stewart really showed off this season.
Sure, he only had a handful of passes, but he was in on a good chunk of plays. His athleticism transferred really well to the collegiate level, but there were still a few plays where he couldn't quite catch up to the pass, though some of that could be blamed on poor pass protection causing Justin Thomas to overthrow it.
There's also part of me that thinks Stewart was underused. With Summers only sparingly playing this year, it seemed like Stewart and Ricky Jeune got the majority of the playing time. The main difference is that Jeune had over three times as many receptions as Stewart.
I also found myself watching Tech games and seeing Stewart get open with Thomas opting to throw it to Jeune. I think a lot of that comes from the chemistry that Thomas and Jeune built throughout the year.
As a blocker, Stewart was a guy who really tried his hardest to get the blocks on the corners. That is definitely the right attitude for a receiver in this offense. The problem was, though, that sometimes he would get beaten by the defenders by either using poor technique or just getting overpowered/out-maneuvered.
Brad Stewart was a good receiver for us this year. He was also just a freshman this year. He's only going to get better. All of those things spell out a very bright future for both Stewart and the Jackets.
If you'll remember back to my Way-too-Early Look at 2016 post for the wide receivers, I expect Stewart to have to hold off Christian Philpott this year at the other receiver spot opposite Ricky Jeune. Stewart has a bit of an advantage in that he already has a full season of real-game experience under his belt.
There's also the possibility that Stewart could redshirt this season to continue to work on his skills at receiver. Either way, he has a very bright future at Tech.