The 50 most important college players in Texas in 2017 — No. 25: UTSA’s Josh Stewart
AS THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON EDGES CLOSER, WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE MOST PIVOTAL PLAYERS FOR EACH PROGRAM'S RESPECTIVE SUCCESS.
The importance of a player is not always defined by their skill level. The most important player on a team or in a unit is not always the best player on a team. This list is designed to breakdown the 50 most important players in Texas college football for the 2017 season. It is not a ranking of the 50 best college football players in the state. Importance can be defined by position, need, skill or leadership. We’ll count down the list through the summer, all the way to No. 1.
50 – Lamar DE Daniel Crosley / 49 – TCU WR KaVontae Turpin / 48 – UTEP QB Ryan Metz
47 – UMHB RB Markeith Miller / 46 – Sam Houston State DE PJ Hall / 45 – Baylor WR Blake Lynch
44 – Texas Tech WR Jonathan Giles (transferred) / 43 – Texas Tech RB Justin Stockton
42 – PVAMU WR Joshua Simmons / 41 – Rice RB Samuel Stewart / 40 – UNT WR Jalen Guyton
39 – Texas RB Chris Warren / 38 – Rice OL Trey Martin / 37 – Texas A&M Commerce QB Luis Perez
36 – Baylor DL K.J. Smith / 35 – Texas State LB Gabe Loyd / 34 – Texas State WR Thurman Morbley
33 – Houston DB Khalil Williams / 32 – Texas Tech LB Jordyn Brooks / 31 – SFA DL John Franklin
30 – SMU DE Justin Lawler / 29 – Texas State QB Damian Williams / 28 – ACU QB Dallas Sealey
27 – UTSA QB Dalton Sturm / 26 – Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams
Much like his quarterback Dalton Sturm, Josh Stewart was probably one of the last guys expected to be a key contributor at the Division I level a few years ago. But, like Sturm, Stewart has overcome the odds time and time again to develop into one of the Roadrunners’ top weapons heading into his senior season. Stewart began his career at Midwestern State, but quickly headed to Blinn College looking to recover his academic eligibility.
After working through that issue, Stewart headed to UTSA in 2015 before an injury knocked him out for the year. With a new coaching staff led by Frank Wilson taking over last year, Stewart was an unproven walk-on. But after earning his spot and working his way onto the field, Stewart became the team’s leading receiver. He caught 36 passes for 682 yards and five touchdowns as a junior.
Stewart’s complete journey to stardom at UTSA, detailed by the San Antonio Express-News, was certainly a long shot. But with one year left, he will be again be a key focal point of the passing game this season.
Stewart is tall and lanky at 6-4, 200 lbs. He has the ability to go up and get passes over smaller defenders in the secondary, making him a reliable target for Sturm – especially in the red zone. Stewart made plays down the field consistently, hauling in at least one pass of 20 or more yards in seven games last year. His biggest performance was a 103-yard, two-touchdown effort against Rice that helped the Roadrunners squeak by with an important 14-13 win that gave UTSA its third victory of the year.
UTSA doesn’t rely on the passing game to win by any means. The Roadrunners are balanced under Wilson and don’t necessarily need Stewart to put up huge numbers in every game to be successful. But what Stewart provides is a big-play option who can make an impact in key situations. Whether that means moving the sticks on third-down on breaking away for a long touchdown run, Stewart is a game changer – and the Roadrunners will need that option as they try to build on last year’s win total.
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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.