Healthy Steward ready to compete for playing time


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON- Linebacker Tony StewardTony Steward
So. Linebacker
#7 6-1, 245
Hastings, FL

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admitted following Monday’s practice that he is working with the third-team group at his weakside linebacker spot, currently getting reps behind Tig Willard and Corico HawkinsCorico Hawkins
Sr. Linebacker
#42 5-11, 230
Milledgeville, GA

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.

However, the expression in his eyes and the look on his face both showed he won't settle for third-best.

Steward tore an ACL in one knee during his senior year of high school, and then tore the ACL in the other knee early last season, leading to speculation that he could redshirt this season in order to get 100 percent healthy. However, he said Monday evening that he is nearing the 100 percent mark now.

“It sucks that I had a little time off, and now I’m feeling pretty great,” Steward said. “The knee is feeling real good, and almost at 100 percent. And there are no limitations to what I’m doing right now.”

Steward was asked about working with the third group at the outside spot after playing primarily in the middle in high school, and it was when a follow-up question about what group he was working with was asked that he showed his true competitive nature.

“Right now, I’m going with the third group, but things could change,” Steward said. “The move [outside] was pretty good. I made the move last year when I first got here because I was just feeling more comfortable outside. The terminology- it’s a new system, but I’m picking up pretty well on it.”

The Florida native said he was working right now with zero pain in either knee.

“I’m not in any pain. That’s why right now, I’m practicing with no brace,” he said. “It feels fine and I’m not feeling any pain during practice. The rehab process is obviously pretty long with an ACL. I guess when summer started, I was feeling pretty good about it. I was doing everything with the team and I wasn’t holding back with anything. It was just good to be back on my feet and start doing everything.
I was fully cleared at the end of May so I’ve been doing everything all summer long. My speed is not completely back, but I’m getting there.”

He said that the rehabilitation process was tougher following his second surgery.

“Honestly, physically it was much tougher than the first time. Emotionally, it didn’t really do anything to me,” he said. “It sucks not being able to play or practice or anything but with the physical part it’s just long process. It just takes time and you have to be on it all of the time. That was probably the toughest thing.”

And, he says, he isn’t holding anything back.

“I just try to play every play full-speed,” he said. “I feel like my speed and change of direction are good. I try to be as physical as I can.”

Steward is also getting instruction from former Clemson All American linebacker Keith Adams, who is working with the linebackers as a student-coach.

“He [Adams] is great,” Steward said. “He is helping to teach us technique and perfecting our technique. He was a great player here and he is trying to make great players after him.”

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