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Commitment from four-star linebacker Hunter Stewart raises bar for Virginia football recruiting class

Elite prospect from talent-rich program gives UVA’s 2019 class a boost

Virginia v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

A busy week in a busy month of recruiting for UVA football continued on Friday with the Virginia Cavaliers landing a commitment from one of the nation’s top prep programs.

Hunter Stewart is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound outside linebacker from Washington, D.C.’s Gonzaga College High School. Rivals has Stewart rated four stars and the #11 outside linebacker in the country. ESPN and 247 both tab him as a three-star recruit—a high 3-star per 247—and his 247 Composite of 87.75 puts Stewart ahead of Seneca Milledge for best in the Hoos’ 2019 commits.

Stewart picked UVA over offers from a slew of Power Five schools, including Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, Duke, Pitt, Kentucky, and Missouri.

This is the model of a Mendenhall outside linebacker: tall, fast, explosive, and a sure tackler when he arrives at the ball. As a pass rusher and a run stopper, Stewart shows a good combination of speed to get around blockers and strength to go through them. He plays smart and with good instincts in space. Even though he isn’t super fluid in changing directions, Stewart has enough top-end speed that he always looks under control (and his game IQ means he’s either in the right area or headed in the right direction to make a play).

Stewart is the biggest pull yet from UVA’s renewed focus on DMV recruiting. Of the three in-state commits in 2019, two are from northern Virginia: Josh Ahern from Lake Braddock, and Chayce Chalmers from Stonewall Jackson in Manassas. The previous two classes included eight total commitments from NoVA, DC, and the Maryland suburbs.

It also signals that UVA has gotten its foot in the door at one of the top programs in the DC area. Gonzaga produced 19 Power Five signees between 2004 and 2017. Only four schools in DC, Maryland, or Virginia have produced more: Woodson (DC), Gilman (Baltimore), Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, MD), and DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD).

Stewart becomes UVA’s third Gonzaga commit during that time period, and the first since quarterback Nick Johns in 2015.