STILLWATER — Welcome to 2014, where college football players announce they will forgo their senior season and enter the NFL Draft via Instagram.That’s precisely the route Oklahoma State receiver Josh Stewart took Tuesday, when he posted a photo graphic on his social media account with the NFL Draft logo the words “Legacy” and “A new chapter begins...”
“One of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life,” Stewart wrote in a note below the photo. “But im ready for this life and I hope all my friends and Cowboy family continue to follow me throughout this journey I’m gonna be preparing for.
“Thanks for everything Cowboy Nation I will rep Pokes until my time on this earth is up!”
Stewart is coming off a 2013 season where he led the Cowboys with 60 catches and tallied 703 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
He finished his Cowboy career with eight catches for 80 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri. Those receiving numbers were a significant drop-off from Stewart’s 2012 breakout sophomore campaign where he tallied 101 catches, 1,210 yards, seven touchdowns. But he became a prime special teams weapon this season by ranking fourth in the nation in punt returns (16.7 yards per return) with two touchdowns, including a 95-yarder that set an OSU and Big 12 record. He also missed nearly two full games with an ankle injury.
Stewart, a 5-10, 185-pound slot receiver, floated the idea of declaring for the draft during Cotton Bowl media day last week. He made his decision over the weekend, giving him ample time to train at Athletes’ Performance in Frisco, Texas.
Stewart said he’s been given a fourth-through-seventh round grade, but believes he hasn’t yet been evaluated thoroughly because he was a junior this season and not a sure-fire early entry into the draft.
Instead, he’ll use the NFL Combine, OSU’s pro day and other workouts to prove he’s a worthy of being selected. Stewart’s size would appear to be a detriment his NFL prospects, though he possesses great versatility, lateral quickness and shiftiness to make defenders miss in the open field.
Those types of skills have become quite valuable in the NFL, making a star out of Heritage Hall alum Wes Welker with the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos and giving another smaller receiver, Danny Amendola, a legitimate career.
Welker and Amendola were not drafted, though other prominent slot receivers like Percy Harvin (first round), Randall Cobb (second round) and Tavon Austin (first round) were taken high.
“You’ve got those (big) receivers on every other team, but you also have, now, the slots that are making plays and moving the chains,” Stewart said. “I just feel like I can be one of those guys … don’t let the size fool you, because there’s not a fearful bone in my body. I’ve never been afraid of anything on the field.See this story on instagram.com