Brainerd receiver and defensive back Kaylen Stewart is the No. 12-ranked college prospect among area high school seniors. Stewart, who has been invited to make unofficial visits to North Carolina State and Vanderbilt the next couple of weekends, sat down with the Times Free Press recently before the start of his final prep season.
Q: At 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, you might be thought of as small for college or pro football. Have you ever stopped to think about it?
A: “Not that much, because I see many athletes in the NFL like Tavon Austin [5-8, 176, St. Louis Rams]. It’s all in your heart and your work ethic.”
Q: You’re being recruited as a wide receiver and a cornerback. Do you have a preference?
A: “Not really. I’m actually getting recruited more as a DB than receiver. Some want me at both positions, and Vanderbilt is looking at me as a slot receiver.”
Q: You mentioned your parents – said you were a “mom’s boy” – and coaches Bryan Gwyn and Tyrus Ward as influential people in your life. Why?
A: “My parents have always been there for me and have supported me, and they do whatever they can to take care of me. I’ve actually been with [assistant coach] Ward since I was 6 years old. He always wanted me to play for him, and he always wanted me to come to Brainerd. He has always been so supportive. Coach Gwyn is a different kind of coach in that he takes kids under his wing and leads them.”
Q: What are some of the games you best remember?
A: “I started as a freshman against Giles County in the second round of the playoffs my freshman year. Not many Brainerd guys have had that opportunity. Last season against Central I had seven catches, one of them for 40 yards, and two touchdowns, and against Red Bank I had six catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.”
Q: If football isn’t a major part of your life in 10 years, what do you think you’ll be doing?
A: “I haven’t decided. I have thought about being a sports reporter interviewing athletes for TV. I’ve thought about being an engineer or an architect, and I’ve also thought about being a sports trainer.”
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...