Preseason training is a punishing, repetitive routine all its own, and thus it was that Georgia Tech wide receiver Brad Stewart found himself at a loss earlier this week.
“What is it, Tuesday or Wednesday?” Stewart asked reporters on, for the record, Wednesday. “Thursday? It’s Wednesday? I don’t even know. I know it’s Day 12 of practice. That’s what I know.”
Tech will complete the camp portion of the preseason Saturday with a scrimmage, after which the fall semester will begin Monday and the Yellow Jackets will cease beating up on each other and begin preparing for Alcorn State in the Sept. 1 season opener.
Despite his challenges with the calendar, Stewart is well aware of how time has progressed more broadly. Stewart, from Benedictine Military School in Savannah, is now a senior.
“I’ve been trying not to think about it, to be honest, but it’s hard not to,” he said.
Surrounded by 16 other scholarship seniors, Stewart is bent on closing his career well. The immediate goal, he said, was making this camp the best from an improvement standpoint. For Stewart, that has meant meetings to foster a tighter bond between quarterbacks and receivers.
“After we watch film of the previous practice or whatnot, we’ll always talk and figure out situations where, Hey, you could have gone like this, or, if it went like this, what would we have done?” Stewart said. “So I think we’ve done very well this year of that, that more mature level of getting together after situations and being, like, OK, did we do it right? Could we have done it better? I think we’ve grown up as a unit offensively.”
In camp, he has also seen quarterback TaQuon Marshall develop as a passer, a particular point of emphasis after he completed 37 percent of his passes last season.
“Numerous plays this camp that he’s made, impressive throws in the hole, over the top,” Stewart said. “It’s been great for us. We’ve loved that.”
Stewart will start opposite Jalen Camp at wide receiver in his third season as a starter, not a small accomplishment for someone who was one of the last players added to Tech’s 2015 recruiting class and likely would have otherwise ended up at Yale (hardly a lamentable outcome, but an FCS school regardless). He has not missed a game and started 29 games, including the past 27 in a row.
While Tech’s go-to receiver for the past three seasons, Ricky Jeune, is now trying to make the Dallas Cowboys roster, there may not necessarily be a clear No. 1 target this season. At the team’s media day before the start of the preseason, Stewart said that he would love to be the go-to receiver, but coach Paul Johnson told him that the player that’s productive and making plays is going to get the ball. It may vary game to game.
“So, really, it’s up to me and, individually, our guys, about – if you want the ball, what are you going to do to get it,” he said.
Regardless, more production from Stewart would be welcome. He caught four passes (one for the first touchdown of his career) after 19 receptions as a sophomore.
Academically, Stewart is on track to graduate next May with a degree in mechanical engineering. He interned this past summer with the Southern Company for the second year in a row. His attitude toward a shot at the NFL is “whatever happens, happens.”
For now, he’s just trying to make the moments of his final year last as long as they can.
“We’ve got to have a great season and get to a good bowl game,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of goals we’re going to set and we’re going to reach ’em.”