|Dabo says Steward's year not wasted|
|by David Hood - Senior Writer - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 11:28 AM||
CLEMSON – One of the most coming questions I receive from people – in person and via email and via text – concerns Clemson linebacker Tony StewardTony Steward
#7 6-1, 235
View Full Profile and whether the Clemson coaches made a mistake by not red-shirting Steward this past season.
We got a chance to ask Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
View Full Profile about Steward during his Friday wrap-up session with the media last week, and Swinney said that Steward needed to get on the field and get some snaps under his belt.
Steward is the former 5-star signee out of Pedro Menendez High School in Hastings, FL, who suffered a torn ACL during his senior season of high school, but still managed to work his way onto special teams in 2011. However, he tore the ACL in his other knee during a Tuesday practice, and because he played in five of the first seven games he was denied a medical redshirt. He had five tackles and a pass deflection in just 36 snaps for the Tigers.
Steward once again rehabbed his way into playing shape, but many thought that Clemson’s coaches would redshirt Steward in 2012 because of Clemson’s depth at linebacker and because he really hadn’t seen game action in almost a year.
Steward played 73 snaps from scrimmage during the fall, leading many to wonder if it was a wasted season for Steward, but Swinney said he didn’t think that Steward could really afford to sit out another season after missing parts of the last two seasons.
"This was really Tony's first year," Swinney said last week. “He didn’t really have a senior year, and then he comes in as a freshman and is trying to play his way into being ready, and then he's out. He just barely missed being able to redshirt. So he came into this year having not played a lot. This was a big year for him, because he was just happy to be back playing the game. It was a transition year for him, and he needed to be able to go out and do what he did."
Swinney then said that the play of senior linebacker Tig Willard – who plays at the same WILL spot as Steward – had a lot to do with Steward’s limited snaps.
"Tig Willard was hard to get off the field," Swinney said. "He's a fifth-year senior, and then Corico (Wright) was another guy who has been very productive for us - another senior. So Tony had to learn a little bit of patience."
Swinney said that Steward has practiced like he was going to start each week.
"The thing I love about Tony is that he took his situation and made the best of it," he said. "When you go into our meetings, Tony is asking questions, writing notes, and he's engaged. When we come in here for our team meetings, he's engaged and into it. Then he comes to practice and he works. He's on all our special teams, and he wanted to do all that. So I wasn't surprised at all that he ended up leading us in the special teams tackles."
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