Steward opens up

by - Senior Writer -
Tony Steward says he is working on getting his confidence back.

CLEMSON – Clemson fans were full of questions regarding freshman linebacker Tony StewardTony Steward
Fr. Linebacker
#7 6-2, 225
Hastings, FL

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’s knee during the summer and fall camp.

Would he be healthy enough to play? Could he avoid a redshirt? How did the knee feel?

As it turns out, Steward had the same questions as the fans.

Steward played in last Saturday’s win over Troy and made two tackles, but admitted on Monday that the process of recovering from knee surgery has been long and full of questions, even questions he has had to ask himself.

“My knee is doing pretty good, better than I thought it would be. It is getting stronger every day,” Steward said Monday. “Sometimes I even forget about it. I didn’t think I would be able to get out there and run and cut. It kind of surprises me. It’s sore after practice and when I wake up in the morning. I have the flex back, but I don’t have the burst completely back.

“You can see it on some plays- the burst is there on some plays better than others. I just have to get my confidence back. My doctor told me it would probably take a year to get back to normal. It’s working right now so that’s all that matters. I trust it. I’ve started doing things I used to- jumping with full explosion. It’s still not the same, but I’m getting used to it. When camp first started, I was thinking that I maybe ought to redshirt to get it back to full health, but as camp went on it got better.”

Steward was the No. 1-rated linebacker prospect in the country coming out of high school, and many expected him to play at middle, or MIKE, linebacker in college. He said on Monday, however, that he has been working predominantly at WILL behind Tig Willard.

“After about a week into camp, Coach Steele moved me outside and Stephone [Anthony] to MIKE,” he said. “I told the coaches that I was more confident at WILL because I played more outside than I did inside.”

Steward admitted to having butterflies before Saturday’s game, and said it lived up to his expectations.

“You don’t believe how loud it [stadium] is and how it gets you going,” Steward said of the game day atmosphere.” It’s a great experience. I was thinking that it was probably one of the greatest experiences in my life. It was actually my first game in Death Valley and it was a pretty good one. “

He also admitted to blowing an assignment on Troy’s long second half run.

“I blew a play [that long run]. I am definitely looking to correct that,” he said. “That just kind of came with focus. I did ok, but not as good as I wanted to. I played the pass before the run and got out of my hole. That one play could’ve changed the game and it was on me. I just have to correct it.”

Steward announced his intention to commit to Clemson on ESPN on National Signing Day, and he admitted Monday that he wished he had handled it differently.

“I want to say I knew [his decision] the night before. I called the coaches and let them know, but I didn’t have my mind completely made up,” he said. “I wish that I hadn’t agreed to do it on TV. There really wasn’t any pressure from the hometown people, just pressure on myself because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I’m the one that had to live with my decision.”

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