LAUREL, Md. (BVM) – The Temple Owls football team struggled to put up points on the board last year, ranking 127th out of 130 teams in the country with just 196 points scored in 12 games. In particular, the passing game ranked 110th in the country with just 177.9 passing yards a game and 10 total touchdowns between quarterbacks Justin Lynch and D’Wan Mathis.
With last year’s leading receiver, Randle Jones, gone and redshirt junior Jose Barbon potentially on the way out in two years, new head coach Stan Drayton got to work with finding future playmakers from the Class of 2023. One of those playmakers was a three-star recruit and the 24th-ranked player in the state of Maryland, Nathan Stewart.
100% COMMITTED 🦉 pic.twitter.com/uaKN95dV23
— Nathan “N1” Stewart (@D1_nathan) May 27, 2022
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound receiver from Laurel, Maryland first received an offer from the Owls on Feb. 16 and had an unofficial visit with the program on April 22.
Jafar Williams, Temple’s newest wide receivers coach, tried to recruit Stewart during his time as the Virginia Tech receivers’ coach. Once he got to his newest position, Williams began recruiting by extending an offer to the wide receiver.
Along with his relationship with Williams, Stewart said it was the new head coach that made the biggest impression on the Temple commit once he got to Philadelphia.
“The trouble was when I came for my unofficial visit, [Drayton] was on his way to the airport,” Stewart said. “When he heard that I got to the campus, he turned his car around and came back to talk to me personally.”
“I thought it was special for a head coach to do that for one of his recruits and that helped me make my decision.”
With his big stature that creates mismatches for opposing cornerbacks, it would be a given that Stewart went down the football path from the start, but that was not the case.
Stewart’s original passion for sports as a kid was soccer, which he played for three years. Instead of having a pair of football cleats and pads, he would have a soccer ball in his backyard to go with soccer cleats and gear.
As it turned out, football didn’t find the young Stewart. The obsession with football came because of his big brother’s desire for the game.
For Stewart, it was a combination of factors that led him getting into football.
“My mom was positive towards it,” Stewart said. “The coaches were like ‘Hey bro, just come out and play.’ It was Chris and my youth league coach that brought me up to where I’m at.”
Stewart would play his first organized football season in his freshman year. Despite his inexperience, his physical traits were enough to make him a starter at wide receiver on the Saint Vincent Pallotti High School football team.
For Stewart, having been a starter as a freshman helped expose him to colleges, but the COVID-19 pandemic limited how much he could show of himself.
Despite this, Stewart would help his recruiting chances with a strong 2020 fall season during his sophomore year. After the season, he started garnering attention from Morgan State University, which resulted in an offer on March 7, 2021.
After receiving his first Division-I offer, Stewart’s hopes of making it to Division-I football heightened.
“I feel like after that, I found myself as being one of the top recruits in the area because not a lot of people get offers handed out to them,” Stewart said. “Everything is worked for, so I knew I had to work harder for bigger schools.”
Along with getting to play spring football for Pallotti, going into his junior year, Stewart began working out with trainer Eddie Jones. The rising star credits Jones with his progression as a receiver, making him faster and a better route runner in the process.
Going into his junior year, Stewart picked up another offer from Boston College on June 25.
Despite playing in a run-oriented offense, Stewart shined as a big-play threat with his physicality. The work that he put into trying to get offers from bigger Division-I schools started to pay off, as Tennessee, West Virginia and Notre Dame began showing interest. The Fighting Irish even invited the junior to their Oct. 30 game against North Carolina.
The amount of buzz Stewart garnered helped him get invited to more camps, with a trip to the Under Armour Camp Series in Baltimore on March 27 and the Rivals Camp Series in Philadelphia on May 15. While he couldn’t go to the Rivals Camp, Stewart said the Under Armour camp was as competitive as expected.
“Being invited to the camps was a big deal for me because I got to compete against other top players,” Stewart said. “Just to show who’s more dominant on either side of the ball. It was a lot of fun because some of the parents from the DMV already knew me from local stuff.”
With wanting to decide before the start of his senior year, Stewart had weighed his options down to Maryland, Temple, Buffalo, Howard, West Virginia and UMass by the start of May.
With the impression that Williams and Drayton made on Stewart during the process, the recruit committed to the Owls on May 27. He will make an official visit to the campus on June 15.
Throughout Stewart’s football journey so far, while his high school coach and trainer helped him progress on the football field, it has been his parents that have made the biggest impact on his football career.
“They’ve put everything towards me to be a better player and son,” Stewart said. “There were times that we didn’t have it and they made it happen because they wanted me to succeed.”