By Sara Legarsky, OSU Media Relations
Not many players can say that they played college footballwith two first round NFL draft picks. However, Josh Stewart can always say that he learned from two of Oklahoma State’s best.
Coming out of high school, the 5-foot-10, 178- pound inside receiver from Denton, Texas, had initially committed to play at Texas A&M. However, when the opportunity came to play at Oklahoma State, Stewart quickly switched schools and hasn’t looked back.
He came to OSU just as quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon were making a significant mark in college football. While both upperclassmen were setting season and career records as each game passed, they never forgot to help Stewart along the way.
Stewart credits the former quarterback with helping him grow as a player.
“Basically, Weeden taught me how to be more mature,” Stewart said.
On the other hand, Blackmon not only helped him on the field, but he became a role model.
“Blackmon taught me as well. He was like a brother to me,” Stewart said. “It was a great experience.”
Overall, Stewart credits the two former Cowboy stars with helping him through his first season of collegiate football, something that can be tough for any incoming freshman.
“I got to learn so much from those guys,” Stewart said. “It was a good thing for me. I mean, not many people get to learn from or get many tips from guys like them.”
With all the mentoring from Weeden and Blackmon, Stewart was able to have a successful freshman campaign.
At season’s end, he had recorded 19 receptions for 291 yards and a team leading 15.3 yards per catch (with receivers with 19 or more catches). He scored two touchdowns, one on a 66-yard pass play, OSU’s second-longest pass play on the season, and the other when he recovered a fumble in the end zone on the kickoff.
Stewart was also utilized on special teams. As a freshman he had 13 kick returns for 261 yards, with his longest return going for 32 yards against Iowa State.
Stewart hopes to be a pivotal member of the team in 2012 and help pick up the slack left when Blackmon and his 122 receptions, 1,522 yards and 22 touchdowns from a season ago left for the NFL. That void is motivating Stewart to step up and take responsibility for his role on the team.
“I just need to work hard and do what I can to the best of my ability,” he said “I need to do what I can for the team and not let anyone down.”
Another challenge that Stewart will have to face this season is creating a relationship with his new quarterback. As true freshman Wes Lunt is handed the reigns of the offense, Stewart will be one of the receivers counted on to help him get adjusted To the offense and the speed of the game.
However, Stewart doesn’t seem to think that Lunt is going to have trouble taking advantage of the rare situation that he is in.
“For him, it’s a good experience, and he’ll be ready,” Stewart said.
He also doesn’t believe that there will be any problem creating a relationship with his quarterback. Early on, he’s noticed that he and Lunt will be able to work well together on the field.
“I’ve talked to him, and we’ve made connections and kind of read each other at practice,” Stewart said. “We’re on the same page so I think it’s going to turn out well.”
Entering this season, the daunting task of trying to replace the numbers that Weeden and Blackmon accumulated over the years can seem impossible for a young player and young team.
However, Stewart credits Weeden for why he isn’t too concerned about the season.
“He helped me get ready for this moment,” Stewart said.
Stewart has high hopes for this season, not only from himself but the team as well.
“Team- wise we’re looking good,” Stewart said. “Everybody’s expecting a good season, and we believe that we’re going to have a good season.”
The team’s success last season and the high expectations of this season aren’t the only things Stewart is thankful for when it comes to playing with this squad.
He’s gotten to learn from two of the best players in Oklahoma State history and apply those teachings on the field. However, these reasons aren’t the only things that Stewart loves and looks forward to when it comes to playing with this team.
When asked about what it’s like to play with long time friend, back-up quarterback J.W. Walsh, Stewart answers with a huge smile, “Great. I mean I can’t even explain the feeling. We just keep playing the game together and having fun.”