SAN ANTONIO — A torn ACL didn’t keep St. Augustine (Menendez HS) linebacker Tony Steward from attending the U.S. Army All-America Bowl on Saturday at the Alamodome.
Unable to compete in the game after tearing his ACL in his final high school game, Steward watched on crutches from the sideline less than a month after having surgery on his knee.
“It was a good experience meeting some of the other players, meeting pretty much the best athletes from around the country,” Steward said. “It was good to bond with them and everything. It was different, I’ve never been to Texas before.”
Steward’s East team won 13-10 despite the absence of the five-star defender who is ranked No. 1 by ESPN for all inside linebackers in the Class of 2011.
“It was a real exciting thing, I wish I could have been able to play,” Steward said. “The East pulled it out like I thought they would.”
Steward arrived on Thursday, four days after the rest of the players.
“I enjoyed being out here,” Steward said. “It would have been better if I would have been able to play, but it was good to be out here representing my school, my family and the East.”
Bradenton (Manatee HS) running back Mike Blakely, a verbal commitment to Florida, sat next to Steward for most of the game.
“I talked to some of the players,” Steward said. “We thought that it might be cool to go to school together, but I guess we’ll see at the end of the process.”
Steward listed Florida State, Clemson, Florida and UCLA as the schools he in considering.
With less than a month remaining before National Signing Day on Feb. 2, Steward plans to make at least three visits to potential colleges.
“I have a visit set up for Clemson next week and Florida State the week after,” Steward said. “I’m maybe going to find a way to put Florida in for a few days.”
Florida head coach Will Muschamp has already begun recruiting Steward.
“He’s a defensive guy,” Steward said about Muschamp. “He came earlier this week and talked to me. He’s trying to get me on campus with the new coaches and the new system. Hopefully we’ll be able to get that done.”
Steward said he would have to make a mid-week visit to Gainesville because his remaining weekends are full.
Florida State has been considered the front-runner for Steward.
“Everybody buys into one cause, it’s pretty much one voice,” Steward same about the Seminoles. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to make a decision soon.”
Being such a highly-recruited player has it’s benefits, but also means that the player will hear the same rhetoric from the numerous college coaches that contact him.
“I’ve heard what I hear from everybody, it’s the same old,” Steward said. “I’m just going to get down there and see.”