GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Brad Stewart didn’t waste any time hitting the road after his school let out for the summer.
The four-star cornerback from New Orleans went on a five-college tour last week, including three SEC schools. He capped off his visits by landing an offer from Alabama on Monday.
“This has been the best week of my recruiting process,” Stewart said, “but all these visits just made the decision harder.”
The 6-foot, 194-pounder made consecutive stops at Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Miami, beginning with the Hurricanes on May 31. He concluded his week-long trip in Tuscaloosa and camped for the Crimson Tide to earn his offer.
“Alabama is about business,” Stewart said. “They try to set you up for the future and a better life after football. You really have to work hard there, but you’ll win championships. That’s a business school. I like Nick Saban and how he takes coaching the DBs real serious. That’s the only school where as a DB you get held accountable higher than a quarterback.”
Stewart visited Auburn on Saturday for its biggest recruiting event of the year, Big Cat Weekend.
“That was one of the best times I had on a visit,” Stewart said. “They had a lot of games set up and they showed us stuff outside of football. But the coaches told me they want me and that Auburn is the perfect spot for me. They said I’d be a great addition to the commits they have.”
Florida was Stewart’s first SEC offer, and he said the Gators are recruiting him harder than any other team. He spent two days in Gainesville with UF coach Jim McElwain, defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, running backs coach Tim Skipper and secondary coach Torrian Gray.
“I’ve got a great relationship with coach Gray, coach Skip and coach Collins,” Stewart said. “They have a great coaching staff. They carry themselves the same way their players play, with a lot of swag. Even the head coach has swag. I loved meeting coach Mac. Everybody from Florida is just an outgoing person and I had a lot of fun with them.”
Of the five schools he saw, Stewart said Florida State’s campus was the nicest and that Miami helped its chances the most because he had never visited before. The Hurricanes secured a return trip from him.
“I’m definitely going to take an official visit to Miami,” Stewart said. “They had everything planned out perfect, and I got to see the city of Miami in general. It’s just like New Orleans, so it felt like home. Coach (Mark) Richt is a great coach and he has a good staff there. I think he’s going to change the program real soon.”
Stewart doesn’t have any other trips set, but plans to take unofficial visits to Ole Miss and Texas A&M next. Another SEC school heavily in the mix for Stewart is Mississippi State, which is recruiting him as a top priority.
Stewart said he sees himself playing in the SEC, but one program that’s not an option is in-state LSU. The Tigers have yet to offer and he doesn’t expect it to happen.
“They want track stars,” Stewart said. “I’m a big, physical corner. They don’t like that. It gets under my skin a little bit, but it’s OK. No matter where I go, I’m SEC. My focus is on the schools that want me.”
Stewart hopes to figure out his top group of schools by the fall, but weeks like this past one make it hard for him to narrow things down.
“I just like so many schools,” Stewart said. “I’ll go somewhere for a visit and be ready to put out my top five, but then I’ll go to another school and it messes up my list. So right now that list is too long and I need time to weigh my options. But I can’t go wrong with any of these choices.”
Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow @ZachAbolverdi