Richard Davenport is a recruiting columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Hogs looking at two Highland playmakers
Junior athlete Avery Johnson (above) and receiver Deon Stewart give Highland two of the better offensive weapons in the state.
Highland High School has an enrollment of about only 475 students but have one of the better playmaking duos in the state in junior athlete Avery Johnson and receiver Deon Stewart.
The Rebels are off to a 2-0 start in big part because of the play of Johnson and Stewart.
“Avery is just a perfect example of a freakish athlete,” said Highland Coach Spencer Hill. “He can do anything and really always has but his body has grown. He’s just a big kid. He has good enough feet to make you miss but will sure run you over with the ball. He can jump.”
Johnson, 6-1, 206 pounds has rushed 14 times for 119 yards, 3 touchdowns and has 7 receptions for 64 yards while having 2 interceptions, including one returned 97 yards for a score. Video highlights click here
“He has good speed,” Hill said “He’s a 4.5, 4.6 kid in the open field. He’s just that freakish athlete that can do everything. He kicks for us and of course plays receiver and quarterback, running back and plays a little bit of safety on top of that.”
As sophomore, Johnson had 41 catches for 750 yards, 8 touchdowns and 44 rushes for 478 yards and 7 touchdowns. He has been invited and has attended numerous Arkansas games and will visit Ole Miss for the LSU game on Oct 19. Numerous other schools have sent questionnaires.
Stewart, 6-1, 163 pounds saw limited action as a sophomore and recorded 9 receptions for 264 yards and 5 touchdowns but hit a growth spurt. Video highlights click here
“I think he opened some eyes during some 7-on-7 this summer,” Hill said. “He’s probably gained four inches and probably 20 pounds of muscle over the last year. He kind of hit that growth spurt which is what you want. Last year as a sophomore, he had the speed but he was just kind of a little guy. His body frame has kind of caught up. He’s just a silky smooth player that’s got great feet, great explosiveness. It’s a just a big play anytime he gets the ball in his hands.”
Hill said Stewart has good speed but was hampered earlier in the year by an injury.
“He’s a 4.5 guy and that was was probably last spring,” Hill said. “He kind of of pulled a hamstring during track and was never really full speed.”
This season, Stewart has 5 carries for 98 yards, 2 touchdowns and 5 receptions for 116 yards while also having a 91 kickoff return for a score. The injury kept him from attending combines in the spring.
“I was trying to get him into something but he never felt a 100 percent to be able to do anything,” Hill said. “I knew if he got healthy this fall he would make a name for himself which he has already.”
Arkansas tight ends Coach Barry Lunney Jr. placed a call to Hill on Sunday night and inquired about Stewart.
“He called me because he was watching Avery on Hudl and he goes ‘Oh my gosh, who’s number three?’ “ Hill said.
Hill believes Johnson and Stewart could be the best to play at the school.
“I told coach Lunney the other day, it’s kind of weird they’re both skill players in the same grade and they may end up being the best two athletes to ever come out of here.” he said.
Johnson and Stewart will likely visit the Hogs for the Texas A&M game next week.