- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
HOUSTON -- Those who tuned in to ESPNU on Thursday night got a glimpse of why Houston St. Pius X quarterback Kohl Stewart is considered one of the best in the nation at his position.
Stewart, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound dual-sport star, is ranked as the nation's seventh-best pocket passer and 91st overall in the ESPN 150. But in the Panthers' nationally-televised 45-21 win over Sealy (Texas) High School, the Texas A&M commitment showed he brings more to the table than your typical "pocket passer."
His legs were as impressive as his strong right arm as he chewed up yardage on zone read option plays or while scrambling on pass plays and deciding to tuck and run. In the win, he ran for 102 yards on 12 carries.
"They probably didn't expect me to run, because I'm a horrible athlete," Stewart said afterward. "There were a few times that I couldn't just give it to my running back because he would have gotten killed. So I just pulled it, got what I could out of it."
Stewart's coach at St. Pius X, Blake Ware, would have called the senior quarterback modest had he heard the way Stewart described his athleticism.
"He's a legit 4.6 guy in the 40 [yard dash]," Ware said. "His arm is unbelievable, but he's good on his feet. He's rated as a pocket passer but he's real mobile, too."
Stewart, who is also a highly touted, All-American baseball prospect as a pitcher, showed his arm strength several times in the win over Sealy. On one second-quarter touchdown pass, Stewart rolled to his left, planted and fired a bullet to the back of the end zone for a 34-yard scoring strike to teammate Nick Caine. He later found Brian Newman for a 32-yard touchdown, showing the arm that is also responsible for a mid-90s fastball on the mound.
"He's always looking to throw," Ware said. "He wants to throw, even at the end of the game. Right there we were trying to run the clock and he was trying to check a pass play at the line and I wouldn't let him. But he's really a guy that understands how to avoid the rush and knows how to find receivers but if there's an open lane, he's not afraid to tuck and go and he can make guys miss. He has a great package as far as being a quarterback."
Stewart, who finished 16-of-35 for 217 yards and three touchdowns with an interception that night, was critical of his performance.
"I really didn't throw the ball well," he said. "I overthrew some guys."
Still, Stewart -- who was one of 20 Texas A&M commitments to visit Kyle Field for the Florida game -- was able to see the bigger picture when it was all said and done. A win against a quality team, one which had defeated the Panthers the previous three seasons and carried its own highly-touted star (Ricky Seals-Jones), before a national television audience meant more than his stat line.
"It's huge for the school," Stewart said. "The four years I've been here, I've never seen the students and all the fans get behind the team like this. That's what kind of gets a team through a year, because it's a long season and there's going to be injuries. So if you've got people that are behind you that can carry you like that, that's huge."
9dSam Khan Jr.