WHITE HALL — Joseph Stewart, The Commercial’s Southeast Arkansas Defensive Player of the Year from White Hall, signed his letter of intent to play football at Ouachita Baptist on Wednesday.
Stewart, who’ll play wide receiver for the Tigers, was also recruited by Harding and Arkansas Tech, but the Tigers and the Great American Conference ultimately received his commitment.
“I knew they’ve been a good program,” Stewart said after he signed his intent. “When I sat down and talked to coach (Todd) Knight (of Ouachita) for the first time, I could tell as soon as I started talking to him that was going to be the coach I was gong to want to play for.”
On Wednesday, the Tigers announced the signing of 32 players in anticipation of the 2013 football season that includes offensive lineman Justin Avery of Monticello and linebacker Waymon Johnson Jr. of Stuttgart.
“It’s the end of a long journey,” White Hall head coach Mike Vaughn said, “when you get an opportunity to sign and go play college football, which was his goal all along. He got the place he wanted to go. It turned out really, really good.”
Vaughn said Stewart was the best overall player the Bulldogs have had in a long time.
One of Stewart’s biggest highlights came in a key conference game against archrival Watson Chapel. He intercepted a pass with 1 minute remaining to seal a 48-41 victory. At the time, Stewart and Vaughn both said that was their favorite moment of the season.
Stewart added that he knew little of Ouachita until they began to contact him.
“I started looking some stuff up and I really liked what I was seeing,” Stewart said. “The coaches did so well and kept up with me all the time.”
The 6-foot, 170-pound senior wide receiver finished the season with 10 interceptions defensively and 20 catches for 489 yards and six touchdowns. He also rushed for 300 yards and two scores.
Ouachita signed 23 Arkansas natives, seven players from Texas, one from Louisiana, and one from Tennessee, who they feel addressed every need that the program had going into the fall. They signed six wide receivers, five from Arkansas, for a corps that was shorthanded.
SAU lands Rison’s James, Dumas’ Pointer
Southern Arkansas has announced its 2013 signing class.
The Muleriders received 24 national letters of intent on Signing Day, including Connor James, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman from Rison and Malachi Pointer, a 6-2, 205-pound defensive end from Dumas.
“I went down there on a couple of visits and they’re a traditional hard-nosed football team,” James said in a phone interview. “I like coach (Bill) Keopple (of SAU) and coach (Georgeio) Milam, the offensive line coach. Me and him sat down and talked before and he just told me about the college and what they’re trying to do and bring championships to that school and I want to be a part of it.”
Pointer signed Wednesday with SAU as well. He earned All-Conference honors all three seasons, and All-State and All-Star honors as a senior.