Sam Pittman pulled a rabbit out of his hat — or, rather, a Horned Frog out of the transfer portal — Wednesday afternoon, as Kee’yon Stewart announced his commitment to Arkansas football.
The former TCU defensive back had committed to Michigan State just 11 days earlier, but changed his mind after a visit to Fayetteville, opting for the Razorbacks instead.
Listed at 6-foot-0, 185 pounds, Stewart spent four seasons with the Horned Frogs. He started eight games and appeared in 29 total games during a career that has been hampered by injuries.
It’s the second time in five days that Arkansas has flipped a defensive back transfer committed elsewhere, as former Western Kentucky safety AJ Brathwaite switched his commitment from Florida International on Saturday.
For Stewart, it will be an opportunity to stay closer to home — Fayetteville is much closer to his hometown of Houston than East Lansing, Mich.
The Razorbacks are now up to 18 scholarship players from the transfer portal this offseason, with eight committing in the past few months and set to join the team this summer. The other 10 were midyear enrollees.
Kee’yon Stewart with TCU Football
A native of Houston, Kee’yon Stewart went to Texas powerhouse North Shore. He helped the Mustangs win a state title in the Lone Star State’s largest classification as a senior, as they beat Duncanville in the 2018 Class 6A-Division I title game.
Although he was just a low- to mid-tier three-star recruit in the 2019 class, Stewart had several Power Five offers and was actually committed to Texas Tech for nearly six months before backing off his pledge shortly after the firing of Kliff Kingsbury.
The Red Raiders were still in the mix, but he ultimately picked TCU over them and Louisville on National Signing Day. Kansas, Syracuse, Utah and Washington also offered.
It proved to be a good move because Stewart quickly got on the field for the Horned Frogs, starting six games at cornerback as a true freshman in 2019. He earned a 63.1 Pro Football Focus grade on his 457 snaps that year.
Unfortunately, that was the most playing time he received during his four years with the program, as injuries derailed his next two seasons.
He played in the first five games and even started against Baylor in the pandemic-altered 2020 campaign before going down with a season-ending knee injury.
Another offseason injury kept Stewart off the field for the first eight games of 2021, but he eventually returned to the field and even started against Kansas. That came two weeks after he came down with a big interception in the end zone during TCU’s upset win over No. 12 Baylor.
With the departure of Gary Patterson, Stewart briefly entered the transfer portal following that season, but less than 24 hours later, announced his return to the Horned Frogs.
Under new head coach Sonny Dykes, he never started a game, but was a regular part of TCU’s secondary rotation. Stewart played 150 total defensive snaps for a team that reached the national championship, even playing 23 snaps in that title game — in which the Horned Frogs were blown out by Georgia, 65-7.
Pro Football Focus gave him a respectable 63.9 grade on those 150 snaps this season, but he did post grades of 54.9 (on 124 snaps) and 52.3 (on 103 snaps) as a sophomore and junior, respectively.
For his career, Stewart has played 834 defensive snaps and 133 special teams snaps. He’s officially credited with 46 career tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 9 pass breakups, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble.
He’ll be listed as a fifth-year senior in 2023, but will technically have two years of eligibility remaining with the Razorbacks because he redshirted in 2021 by appearing in only three games and he has the bonus year granted by the NCAA in response to the pandemic.
Quincey McAdoo Update
The Razorbacks have added cornerbacks on back-to-back days now. Prior to Kee’yon Stewart on Wednesday, JUCO transfer Chris Rhodes announced his commitment on Tuesday.
Considering they apparently didn’t pop up on Arkansas’ radar until recently, the immediate reaction might be that these moves are in response to the uncertain status of Quincey McAdoo, who was involved in a serious car accident earlier this month.
The plan has always been for the Razorbacks to add more defensive backs from the transfer portal following spring ball, but it now seems as though they are planning on not having McAdoo available for the 2023 season — something Sam Pittman hinted at Wednesday in an interview on 103.7 The Buzz.
“I think right now we’re probably just worried about him getting back healthy and then we’ll go from there,” Pittman said. “He’s going to get back healthy because he’s a McAdoo.”
While it now sounds like McAdoo is doing a lot better than originally feared, Arkansas must now figure out how to replace him on the field for at least this coming season. Dwight McGlothern is back after a solid first season, plus the Razorbacks added Baylor transfer Lorando “Snaxx” Johnson and former five-star recruit Jaheim Singletary from Georgia via the transfer portal. They also have LaDarrius Bishop returning from injury.
What it Means for Arkansas Football
Throw in the fact that there’s a chance one of those players, along with redshirt freshman Jaylen Lewis, will be responsible for playing the nickel spot, that’s not a ton of depth — especially if there’s a rash of injuries in the secondary like there was last year. The Razorbacks got a taste of that this spring with certain players not yet on campus or injured and the result was freshmen and walk-ons in the two-deep.
That kind of doomsday scenario is why the Razorbacks wanted to add two more defensive backs and they’ve done that with Stewart and AJ Brathwaite. Rhodes was thought to be a third, but Best of Arkansas Sports has since learned that he is a preferred walk-on, so Arkansas has stuck with its plan to add two scholarship players at the position.
Perhaps they’re heavy on cornerbacks compared to safeties, but the Razorbacks have been known to shift guys around to ensure their best five defensive backs are on the field at the same time. That’s already happened with Hudson Clark and Malik Chavis moving to safety.
It’s also worth noting that this puts Arkansas football at 83 scholarships for next season, according to Best of Arkansas Sports’ roster tracker. That is two shy of the 85-man limit. Those last couple of spots are expected to be filled with an interior offensive lineman and wide receiver.
The top target on the offensive line is believed to be Amaury Wiggins, who took an official visit to Fayetteville earlier this week and soon after released a top five of Arkansas, Illinois, Miami (Fla.), Penn State and Texas A&M.
More coverage of Arkansas football and the transfer portal from BoAS…