Utah makes final four of 2021 prospect Darrien Stewart

Ryan Kostecka

It may be the month of September, and the COVID-19 pandemic may be seriously hindering recruiting for most of the college football programs throughout the country. But for the University of Utah, head coach Kyle Whittingham and co. got off to a stellar start in recruiting but have since slowed down and missed out on a couple of top prospects.

Headlining Utah's 2021 recruiting class is quarterback Peter Costelli, one of the top-ranked passers in the country according SI All American's John Garcia.

Joining Costelli is one of the premier running backs in the country in soon-to-be four-star running back Ricky Parks out of Gaither High School in Tampa, Florida. The Utes the secured their first wide receiver commit of the 2021 class when Deamikkio Nathan, the playmaker out of South Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, announced his commitment to the Utes on July 1.

All three players have been named SI All-American nominees.

But now with the offense starting to thrive, Utah must turn its attention to the other side of the ball. With four-star linebacker Mason Tufaga and three-star linebacker Trey Reynolds, both SI All-American nominees, already on board, the Utes are looking to add to a headliner in the secondary.

Enter Darrien Stewart, a three-star safety out of Nevada who plays like he was born to suit up for the Utes.

*3-star, S
*6-foot-2, 190-pounds
*Desert Pines High School — Las Vegas, Nevada

Sort of unknown commodity for whatever reason, Stewart full on looks the part of Division I safety, and to be honest he plays the part as well. 

What makes Stewart special is that he's good on nearly every aspect of the game. He's got the size to man up with tight ends, the physicality to play in the box and make a hit and the athleticism to cover centerfield. 

But that's also what makes Stewart just a three-star prospect and not more is that he isn't great in any one thing. He can matchup with receivers but lacks ideal cover skills, and while his athleticism is good, his hips are a little tight and he struggles coming out of breaks immediately.

His best trait is the physical and reckless abandonment he plays, a style of play that has become very familiar with the Utah defense. Stewart loves to hit and has no problem challenging anyone, regardless of size.

Still, Stewart is the sort of prospect who is only going to get better. Once he gets into a college program, I fully expect him to shine after a year or two of refining his technique and growing more as an athlete.

Utah is in a great position to land Stewart, despite offering him a scholarship a month and a half ago. His final four consists of Boise State and UCLA, both of whom extended scholarships a few months ago, Utah and Oregon, who according to 247sports has yet to offer a scholarship.

Stewart has made it known that he plans to commit on Sept. 24, his birthday, and would like to take more trips between now and then but that remains to be seen. Utah, UCLA and Boise State are all within driving distance while Oregon is not.

The Ducks could make this interesting in the end, especially with Stewart listing him in his final four despite the scholarship. He's been in constant contact with Oregon coaches and feels an offer could come sometime soon — which the Ducks are holding out for regarding other prospects. 

If Oregon does offer, it could throw a wrench into Stewart's plans and make him reconsider everything. But if the decision date approaches and Oregon hasn't offered, look for Utah to emerge victorious in this one and land its first secondary commitment of the 2021 recruiting cycle.

Pairing Stewart with Jeffrey Bassa (who has both Utah and Oregon in his finalists), if the Utes can also secure his commitment, would give the program two vastly different safeties who pair extremely well together and could become a major force in a few years.

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