One of the biggest signing day surprises has fallen in Clemson’s favor.
Top247 linebacker Tony Steward (6-2, 220) signed with the Tigers over Florida State on Wednesday morning, stunning a high school gymnasium crowd largely dressed in Seminoles gear. The announcement was televised on ESPNU.
"It's a different feel for me, somewhere I can go I can grow up and it's close enough," he said. "I'm able to come home anytime."
Steward, ranked the nation’s No. 12 prospect, had long been viewed as an FSU lean – if not lock – by national and local recruiting analysts.
"Leaving home will be tough, but it will be a new experience and I feel like it will be easy for me to grow," Steward said during his press conference.
His signature, along with the expected commitment of Anson County (N.C.) linebacker Stephone Anthony later this morning, would give Clemson the nation’s top two linebacker prospects and three of the country’s top 12 prospects overall.
It represents a rather remarkable close for any school, much less a team that went 6-7 last season.
Steward’s decision is reminiscent of that of former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, who eschewed family wishes to take the unconventional out-of-state path.
Steward’s family was known to favor FSU, while Clemson felt good about its chances because of how Steward’s low-key personality seemed to fit with the school and coaching staff.
He was recruited by receivers coach Jeff Scott.