A few recruits in Georgia Tech's 2015 class were late-comers onto the scene, and Brad Stewart was a gleaming example of that. The big wide receiver from Benedictine Military School in Savannah didn't get a ton of attention from big-time programs until the state playoffs, where he led his team to the AA State Championship. His leadership, production, and highlights during that run started to draw more and more attention towards him from big-time local programs such as Georgia Tech, uga, Auburn, Clemson, and others. That attention was in no part diminished by the AJC's recruiting beat writer, Michael Carvell, who spotlighted Stewart constantly in articles and on Twitter and actively campaigned for schools to give him more attention. (But that's a discussion for a different day.) Stewart was originally offered a grayshirt by Coach Johnson, wherein he would enroll this summer and then get the first open scholarship that resulted from premature attrition or graduation. Late in the process though, the offer changed to a full-on scholarship offer, and shortly thereafter Stewart committed to round out the class.
As a Recruit
Stewart stands at 6'1", weighs in at 190lbs, and hails from Benedictine Military School in Savannah, GA -- the first player at Benedictine to sign with a Power-5 program in over 10 years. He played both wide receiver and defensive back in high school, but was recruited to play on offense at Georgia Tech. He committed to the Yellow Jackets over offers from the likes of Cincinnati, Marshall, Army, and Yale, though again, he was drawing interest from uga, Clemson, Auburn, Duke, Mississippi State, and Notre Dame.
Stewart was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals (5.5) and the 247Sports Composite (.8517).
Stewart's film is very interesting. It doesn't appear as though he's particularly fast (he probably has average speed for a Power-5 wide receiver), nor is he particularly physical (although he played some defense and probably isn't afraid to mix it up). Instead, Stewart has two qualities that make him highly effective as a receiver and kick returner: ball skills and vision. On ball skills, Stewart shows what I consider to be elite-level talent. He's a very natural pass-catcher who high-points the ball and catches with his hands instead of his arms. He's comfortable doing so running down field, in tight coverage, or in any situation. He appears to be a very reliable target, on the level of a DeAndre Smelter or Demaryius Thomas. The other main talent he has is vision in returning kicks. Stewart is very effective in reading and following his blockers, and changes his speed with ease to make sure his blockers have time to get properly set up.
Long story short, Stewart won't be out-running a whole lot of ACC secondaries, nor will be be the physical menace that DeAndre Smelter was, but he still has a couple of tools that are honed to a level that could make him a very effective receiver.
And, while we're talking about film, don't forget about the display of ball skills referred to as "The Catch" that Stewart made over Tennessee's recently-signed CB Micah Abernathy.
What to Expect
As Stewart enters the depth chart, it'll be at a time where there's great opportunity for a freshman. Both starters from last year need replacing, and there are only three returning wide receivers. I'd imagine two of the three incoming freshmen will play this fall, with the third redshirting. The good news for Stewart is that the opportunity is there. The bad news is that his competition may leave him as the odd man out. Harland Howell II is already on campus and a very physical receiver, while Christian Philpott is also a talented receiver who's highly athletic. Who plays very well could come down to blocking ability (in which case I'd like Stewart's chances over Philpott's), although the plan for how much playing time is needed from them could eliminate that need and come down purely to who's a better pass catcher. Stewart brings a lot to the table as a wide receiver, but we may not see it immediately. Down the road, expect to see him playing a key role, especially in third down situations where the quarterbacks will need a reliable target on the outside.