POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Some trailblazers are born with the talent. Others just catch a break through lots of hard work.
Point Pleasant senior Seth Stewart is blessed with a 6-foot-8, 320-pound frame, but the offensive lineman is definitely a benefactor of sweat and effort.
Stewart — a three-time all-state selection in football — will be continuing his football career on quite a grand stage after signing a national letter of intent with Louisiana State University on Wednesday, Feb. 1, in the PPJSHS Commons Area in Mason County.
Stewart — the only Big Black in program history to earn all-state honors three times — was a three-year starter at PPHS and twice earned first team all-state honors for his work at offensive tackle.
During his four years, Point Pleasant — including playoff games— went 44-4 overall while also posting a perfect 39-0 in regular season outings.
Stewart was one of two offensive tackles and one of only four offensive lineman signed by LSU this past week, with first-year head coach Ed Oregeron bringing in 23 total commitments that resulted in a unanimous top-10 class in the country.
Stewart — who verbally committed to Marshall as a junior, then reopened his recruitment at the beginning of his senior season — officially committed to then LSU coach Les Miles and the Tigers after a visit to Baton Rouge this past summer.
Miles, however, was relieved of his head coaching duties mid-season, and Orgeron inherited the job after performing well in the position on an interim basis.
Stewart noted that Louisiana State’s commitment to him never wavered throughout the staff change. And since being a Bayou Bengal was what he decided he wanted to be, he never reconsidered when LSU officially offered him the opportunity.
“It is hard to put this into words because it has been such an emotional roller-coaster throughout the whole recruiting process. There are ups and downs through it all, but it comes down to the bonds that you build with the people in the process,” Stewart said. “It’s a big commitment to people that you are just meeting, and LSU made a coaching switch midseason, but they never once switched their interest in me. LSU was where I wanted to be and they still wanted me there, so this was an easy decision to make and I am looking forward to the future.”
Stewart is Point Pleasant’s all-time leader in pancake blocks (50) and has been the lead blocker for the program’s top two rushers in school history in Cody Mitchell and Grant Safford.
More importantly, he has served as the anchor for an offensive line that has produced three of the most prolific rushing attacks in school history.
Seth’s size and strength are obviously noticeable, but PPHS coach Dave Darst notes that it is his work ethic and ability to be coached that really sets him apart from others.
And since Stewart has been willing to take instruction and work at his craft to get better, Darst feels that this mountain of a young man is getting everything that he deserves.
“We are very proud and very excited to have a player of Seth’s caliber come here and play football for us, and for him to be recognized as the type of player that can get to Louisiana State is really a dream come true for all of us,” Darst said. “Here is a small town West Virginia boy that got noticed by one of the biggest programs in the nation. It goes to show that these things can happen for you, even around these parts, if you are willing to put the hard work in.
“He’s worked really hard to get to this point and he’s been a wonderful teammate over the years. Honestly, he’s a coach’s dream because he will do whatever coaches want. Without kids like Seth, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I’m excited to see what the next four years can bring for him.”
Besides Marshall, Stewart also turned down offers from Louisville, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Arkansas and Virginia.
He acknowledged that all of those schools were fine choices for him to have, but at the end of the day he wanted to be somewhere that would challenge him to reach his full potential.
And honestly, nowhere in America does that better right now than the Southeastern Conference.
He may be from a small town in an area unknown to Tiger fans, but he is really looking forward to the challenge of introducing himself to fans in the Pelican State.
“When it started becoming clear that I was going to be able to play college football, I knew that I wanted to go somewhere that was competitive, somewhere that would get the best out of me. I wanted to be somewhere that if I were playing there, I would be considered one of the best,” Stewart said. “It’s quite humbling because Louisiana State has never had a recruit from West Virginia, so I have the chance to go down there and show people what West Virginia is all about.
“In some ways, I do feel like a bit of an underdog — and I prefer it that way — so to know that I will have the chance to compete against some of the best football players in the country is both a dream come true and a very difficult challenge. I’m looking forward to the opportunity for both of those reasons.”
The ironic twist in all of this is that Stewart never had aspirations of playing college football when he was younger. In fact, he didn’t get involved in organized sports until his last year of junior high.
Even then, all he wanted to do was learn football and be part of a group with his friends. What followed was something out of fairy tale … and he attributes almost all of it to his older teammates.
“You know, it’s funny how things work out sometimes. I never played sports when I was younger and just started getting into football as an eighth grader because I just wanted to be one of the guys,” Stewart said. “As things kept going along, I found myself in the weight room all the time, getting stronger and learning a lot from the upperclassmen that were also there getting ready for the next season.
“Those seniors showed me what dedication was all about and what hard work could accomplish, so those guys have as much to do with where I am today as I do. I’ve been blessed to play football with some really great teammates and coaches over some really great years at Point Pleasant. This moment belongs as much to them as it does me.”
Stewart currently carries a 2.8 grade-point average and is undecided on a major at LSU.
Seth is the son of Jimmy Stewart and Karla Stewart, both of Point Pleasant.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.