South Carolina football fans have their eyes on a lot of incoming freshmen from the highly-touted 2024 recruiting class. A top-12 class in terms of average player ranking, the Gamecocks managed to pull in two 5-star signees for just the second time in the modern recruiting era (2020 was the other).
One of those 5-star freshmen is DMV native Dylan Stewart who will look to provide an instant impact into outside linebackers/defensive ends coach Sterling Lucas' room this season.
Stewart is a physical freak (standing 6'5" and weighing in somewhere between 235 and 250 pounds) who has plus-length and elite athleticism. He is at his best when he is turned loose to go get quarterbacks, but he can play against the run and even dabbles in coverage at times when he is lined up as an outside linebacker.
His ceilingless potential is exactly why Stewart reached the #1-overall spot in On3's rankings at one point last year and why he finished the 2024 recruiting cycle as a consensus top-3 EDGE player in the class.
Depending on what defensive scheme Carolina employs this year (they have run a 4-2-5 for years but more effectively utilized a 3-3-5 to end the 2023 season), Stewart could play snaps at defensive end or linebacker for the 2024 version of the South Carolina football team.
On film, Stewart is no match for most offensive tackles when he puts his hand in the dirt. His speed and bend around the edge are almost unmatched from recent high school prospects, but he also has enough power to make plays after getting engaged with a blocker.
He can also play as a stand-up EDGE, something that South Carolina sometimes utilizes in both their 4-2-5 and their 3-3-5. This clip from the Under Armour All-American Game shows him beating the top offensive tackle prospect in the class for a strip sack after lining up as a stand-up 9.
Stewart's high school film showed him getting some reps blitzing in the A-gap and even taking a few snaps as a traditional linebacker. It is doubtful he will play much linebacker for the Gamecocks unless it is as a pass rush-only player on 3rd-and-long, but his ability to move around the defense will give defensive coordinator Clayton White a few more options when trying to dial up some pressure.
South Carolina football fans' first opportunity to watch Stewart in action in garnet and black will be the annual Garnet and Black Spring Game on April 20th.