STILLWATER, Okla. —
At times Saturday, Stewart felt obligated to make those plays. He knew the offense wasn’t clicking and he had to find a way to make something out of nothing.
That’s why he caught a punt inside his own 10-yard line.
It’s also why his name will likely forever be in the Oklahoma State’s record books, breaking the old record of a 90-yard return held by Jim Wiggins in 1956 and Jim Spavital in 1946 and tying a season record with two punt returns for touchdowns with Dez Bryant, Darrent Williams and Barry Sanders.
“I had a lot of space,” Stewart said. “The punter boomed it. I honestly didn’t know where I was at. ... When I see space, you have to take the chance. Punt returners should be able to make guys miss and I had some great blocks in front of me.”
“He was huge,” Lavey said. “He makes plays and gets the crowd excited. That’s one of the things on defense, you play to the enthusiasm and excitement of the crowd. When Josh Stewart can get that crowd going, we take the field and we’re fired up.”
Sometimes, that’s all it takes — one little spark. One extra hour in the film room or one extra repetition in practice.
Even though TCU held Stewart to just two catches in the second half, the junior has gone from a virtually unknown in recruiting circles coming out of high school to perhaps Oklahoma State’s biggest weapon on offense in three years
His season-high 10 catches for 141 yards and 265 all-purpose yards Saturday are just an indication of how far he has come.
But with all the success also comes more attention from defenses — something Stewart is already preparing for.
“I know teams are probably going to try to kick it away from me,” Stewart said. “I just have to go out and play as hard as I can every play and try to make plays. If teams kick away from you or put an extra guy out there to cover you, you just have to find ways to make plays.”
Three years ago, Stewart came to Stillwater a nameless receiver. Now he’s evolved into a superstar.
Not bad for a player just hoping to see the field.