ArDarius Stewart: Alabama’s next big name
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Alabama’s true freshman wide receiver Calvin Ridley is expected to be Amari Cooper’s long-term successor, but for now the role may fall on redshirt sophomore ArDarius Stewart.
A native of Fultondale, Ala., Stewart enters his third season on the team and has embraced a leadership role. He along with teammate Robert Foster have been leading receivers through drills in fall practice. Stewart caught eight passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns in Alabama’s spring game. He shared most valuable player honors offensively with Foster.
Stewart’s hands, speed and athleticism got him action last season in 13 games.
He recorded 149 yards on 12 receptions, seven of which resulted in first downs.
Stewart brought in three passes for 63 yards in Alabama’s meeting with Florida Atlantic in 2014. He played against No.1-ranked Mississippi State, accounting for 25 yards on two catches.
Stewart’s ability to adjust to the football and come down with contested receptions is what makes him a threat in Alabama’s passing game. Head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin both want him to be “the man.” At 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, Stewart was a consensus four-star prospect upon his arrival to Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2013.
He has the instincts to play in the slot, yet Stewart’s hands and acceleration would bode well as a vertical target. He tallied eight receptions in the Crimson Tide’s second fall scrimmage Saturday, bailing out quarterback Jake Coker on a few passes.
Wide receivers Chris Black and Robert Foster will play this season. Kiffin will find ways to navigate Calvin Ridley and Richard Mullaney into some roles, but Stewart is the ideal guy.
Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.