Perkiomen Valley star QB eager to star on Villanova's 'D'
Rasaan Stewart helped lead the Vikings to the playoffs, now eager to join the Wildcats.
GROWING UP, Rasaan Stewart was more of a basketball guy. He didn't give football a shot until the seventh grade, when he started out as a running back.
"I was just looking for [another] sport to play," he recalled. "Something to kill some time and have some fun."
Eventually, at Perkiomen Valley High, he became a quarterback. At first, one who mostly ran. Last season, while operating out of a no-huddle offense, he rushed for 1,200 yards and 17 touchdowns and threw for 2,000 and 26, as the Vikings won a PIAA playoff game for the first time.
Now he's bringing his taking his talent to Villanova, which has been recruiting him forever. But he's going there as a defensive back, a commodity you can never have enough of in the pass-heavy Colonial Athletic Association. Stewart is one of 14 prospects who've given coach Andy Talley an oral commitment and are expected to sign their national letters of intent today.
"I just feel a special connection to the program," said Stewart, who's been selected to the Pennsylvania roster for this June's Big 33 Football Classic in Hershey. "They've been showing me a lot of love. After I went on my visit, it was an easy decision."
Even though there was interest from FBS teams, notably Pittsburgh, especially later in the process.
"They [finally] offered me [a scholarship], but I didn't really get that connection," Stewart said. "I couldn't pull the trigger.
"A lot of people don't realize the pressure that goes into all that stuff. You have to make a choice based on what's good for you academically and athletically. Villanova just always felt right for me."
It didn't hurt that his father Chris, a career military man, worked there for 3 years with the ROTC program. Rasaan was born in Louisiana and lived in Japan and South Carolina before the family moved to the Main Line.
"I learned to just go along, make friends anywhere," said Stewart, who's the second of four brothers. "Now when I look back I had some really good experiences. I got a chance to do a lot of different things in a lot of places. It's definitely something I can cherish."
He says proximity wasn't a factor in his decision, since his dad is retiring soon and the family plans to relocate again, this time to Texas.
What motivated Stewart as much as anything was the fact that he might be able to contribute immediately. The Wildcats went 6-5 last season against one of the more demanding schedules in FCS. They have a whole bunch back, including recordsetting dual-threat junior quarterback John Robertson. And who knows? Maybe at some point, the staff will figure out a way to get him involved on both sides of the ball.
"I'm not saying I like offense better, but I do like having the ball in my hands, scoring, making plays," acknowledged Stewart, who's 6-1 and weighs 180. "I knew that going to college, quarterback wouldn't be my position. I knew I'd be doing something else. But they can always put me on kick returns, maybe work me in for a few plays from the slot. We'll see. They pretty much run the same offense we used in high school.
"I haven't really played corner yet. I've been a safety. But depending on the situation, I can cover a lot of ground. I think that helps me out a lot. It's going to be an adjustment. But I'm ready for whatever they want me to try. My dream was to go to college and have a chance to play at a young age. So I'll have the opportunity. That's satisfying to me. Now I've got to take care of my side of it. If I put in all the work I should be fine."
The Wildcats won a national title in 2009 and got to the semifinals the following year. That's something Stewart hopes to be a part of. He was the catalyst for the turnaround at PV. At Villanova, it's a matter of continuing the tradition.
"I want to win," he stressed. "That's really what it comes down to."
Sounds like a fun way to spend the next 4 years.