January 29, 2012

Stewart: A dream come true

ArDarius Stewart grew up a fan of the University of Alabama, so when Nick Saban offered him a scholarship to play for the Crimson Tide, it didn't take long for the Fultondale athlete to make a decision and commit to UA.

"It's a dream come true," Stewart said. "It's very special because I'm the first male in my family to accomplish this, and I believe my family is very excited and happy and proud of me right now. It's an honor to do it and represent my family well."

Stewart was one of three 2013 prospects to commit to Alabama on Saturday during the Tide's first Junior Day of the year. Running back Altee Tenpenny and wide receiver Raheem Falkins also gave a verbal pledge to for play the Tide.

In his meeting with Coach Saban, Stewart was more impressed with what Alabama had to offer academically than on the football field. Ultimately, that's what put UA over the top for the in-state junior.

"(Saban) was talking about education and how much help I can get in my academics," Stewart said. "Basically, sports comes naturally to me, but with schoolwork, you have to study and things like that.

"I was listening to the things that they could help me with and that I could benefit from in the future. I wasn't thinking about just football. I was thinking about my education and what my future would be like after I graduate."

As he was leaving Saban's office, Stewart decided to go ahead and commit, and he shared the good news with the Crimson Tide's head coach.

"He was looking serious at first when we were getting ready to walk out, but he had a smile on his face when I told him," Stewart said.

As a junior at Fultondale High School, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound quarterback rushed for 2,200 yards and 30 touchdowns and passed for 1,400 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also played defensive back for the Wildcats.

He knows his future may not be at quarterback at the next level, but he's willing to play anywhere that gets him on the field.

"They didn't mention a position," Stewart said. "I just told them I want to be on the field. The rumors have been saying that I'm going to be a defensive back, but that's not totally true. They really don't know yet.

"I really just want to be on the field. If they wind up putting me on defense, I'll play defense, but I think I might wind up offense."

With three new commitments on Junior Day, Alabama now has seven players in its 2013 recruiting class. Stewart also had offers from Auburn and Utah.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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