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6 August 2007
Ex-Lee Star Set to Shine at JSU

By Reggie Benson
The Huntsville Times Sports Staff

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe was tempted to play former Lee High star Jared Stewart last season as a true freshman. Now, Crowe is glad he didn't.

When the Gamecocks take the field this afternoon, Stewart will arguably be among the most-improved players on the field. A 6-foot-2, 196-pound redshirt freshman, Stewart will enter preseason practice backing up senior Mike Johnson at left safety in the Gamecocks' two-deep set.

"Jared is a guy we redshirted last season, but it was awfully hard not to play him because he has developed into such a good player," Crowe said last week during the Gamecocks' annual media day. "He's a backup safety, but it's really a position of learning more than a depth-chart position because he's the most talented guy we've got playing safety and he's grown up a lot."

As a senior at Lee, Stewart led the Generals to a 10-3 record and the third round of the state playoffs. He finished with 96 tackles and six interceptions.

As a result, Crowe said Stewart reported to camp last season feeling good about himself.

"He came in here with a swagger that was an imitation," Crowe remembered. "He was trying to play a role instead of playing the game, but slowly but surely he realized the business part of this ... how much studying it takes and the attention you have to pay to small details."

As a result, Stewart has put himself in position to play and play a lot. "He's kind of a quarterback out there," Crowe said. "The position he plays makes all the checks and I just hope he's accountable enough to do all of it because his talent is going to jump way out there. He's going to play some special teams, but he's going to rotate (at safety). He's going to be in the game and the better he plays the more he's going to play. I expect him to be tired after every football game. He's a good player."

Jacksonville State opens the season on Sept. 1 against Alabama State in Montgomery.

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