It is a long way from Rock Hill, S.C. to Hutchinson, Kan., and Hutchinson Community College wide receiver Jatavius Stewart has spent the last year of his life figuring out exactly how far.
The 5-foot-11, 185 pound speedster found out late in his senior season at Rock Hill High School that he wasn't going to be able to qualify, and began exploring his option in the junior college ranks.
It was at that time that a friend from a rival school and elite 2012 JUCO recruit helped him decide on Hutchinson.
"Really, I just started looking around it and it was Cordarrelle Patterson that helped me decide on Hutchinson," said Stewart. "His school was a rival of my school and he just told me it was a good place to be."
The two receivers starred in the Blue Dragon's spread attack in 2011 and finished first and second on the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
Despite his success in 2011, it wasn't until recently that Stewart's recruitment started to catch fire and offers began to pour in.
One of those offers came from a team that fell short in their recruitment of Patterson, but no one was happier than Stewart to hear from the Georgia Bulldogs.
"Man I was happy when Georgia offered," said Stewart. "I know them as a top SEC school that spreads the ball around and gives their guys a chance to make plays. They have a good passing game and all, so I really like what they do. I don't have any leaders or anything, but I was happy with that offer."
Since the offer from Georgia, Stewart hasn't heard much from the Bulldogs, but says that he has gotten to know UGA wide receivers coach Tony Ball fairly well in their limited interaction.
"I know Coach Ball and that is about it," he said. "We haven't talked a lot or anything, but I have gotten to know him a little bit and he is a cool guy. He is supposed to be up here to my school if he hasn't already."
According to the JUCO playmaker, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kansas State are currently recruiting him the hardest, but he also understands that more schools are going to pick up the pace once his academic situation becomes clearer.
"Right now, I'm not sure if I will graduate in December or not," said Stewart. "The way it is looking right now, I think I will, but I'm not certain yet. Once I get that figured out, I think some schools are going to pick things up a little bit."
Regardless of what school is recruiting him the hardest and what school offers, Stewart, who led the Jayhawk Conference in average yards per punt return with 16.2 yards per return, knows exactly what he is looking for when considering his college choices, and is committed to finding the right situation.
"Playing time is big for me and it doesn't matter what position," said Stewart. "I play receiver now, but I'll do whatever I can to get on the field. I'll play cornerback, I'll play offense, defense, return kicks, or punts, or anything. I just want to be on the field. I am also looking for the right place for me with academic support too. I want to make sure I get my academics taken care of so I can graduate."
While much is left to be decided, one thing is absolutely certain for the JUCO stand out.
He has learned a valuable lesson in the last few years.
"Honestly, I've learned so much about my education through all of this," said Stewart. "I can't be an athlete without being a good student, so that comes first. I know that now."
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