Manny Diaz introduces Miami Hurricanes football coaches
Manny Diaz had already started to evaluate Jamari Stewart last year.
He was the Miami Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator at the time, and Miami’s go-to recruiter in the Treasure Coast, making the early evaluation on Vero Beach’s Jahfari Harvey and securing the four-star defensive end’s commitment. It didn’t take him long to pick out Stewart as his next target from the region.
Before Stewart even had an offer from the Hurricanes, Diaz urged him to visit in the fall and the three-star outside linebacker from Port St. Lucie Centennial made it to Hard Rock Stadium for Miami’s regular-season finale, a win against the Pittsburgh Panthers. In January, Diaz had the carte blanche to finally extend the offer. Just a few weeks earlier, Diaz returned from a brief stint as the coach of the Temple Owls to succeed Mark Richt as the Hurricanes’ coach and one of his first offers went out to Stewart.
“Finally when Manny Diaz became the head coach, that’s when I got the offer,” Stewart said last month in Port St. Lucie. “Me and coach Diaz speak a lot. I haven’t really made any plans to make a visit there or anything.”
Stewart already has two trips to Coral Gables in the books, though. The in-state edge rusher made it down to campus in February for junior day, then again in March for one of the Hurricanes’ first spring practices, where he got to meet Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olson and Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin.
Simply getting an offer from the Hurricanes was big for Stewart. Actually getting to be immersed in the program’s history added an extra element of excitement.
“It was good seeing all the alumni around,” Stewart said.
While the 247Sports.com composite rankings considers Stewart the No. 60 outside linebacker in the country, he plays the position on a 3-4 defense and appeals to Miami as a defensive end.
His 6-4, 215-pound frame fits a similar profile to some of the defensive ends in the Hurricanes’ Class of 2019 such as Harvey — listed at 6-4, 225 pounds in high school — and Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna’s Cameron Williams — listed at 6-5, 215. Stewart said he still talks with Diaz about two or three times each week, and communication has been consistent since the offer arrived.
Those physical tools are hard to ignore, and his 2018 numbers — 33 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and three sacks, according to Treasure Coast Newspapers in Port St. Lucie — should only improve this fall now that Stewart is playing without the brace he needed on his left knee after having the joint scoped in the summer.
“His athleticism. He’s 6-4 and can run. He runs like a receiver,” Centennial coach Josh Watkins said. “I know a lot of schools are looking for someone who can go get a quarterback off the edge and he fits that mold. He’s kind of freaky athletic. He’s got those big paws.”
Interest in Stewart has steadily grown since the start of the year. The linebacker took unofficial visits with the North Carolina State Wolfpack and South Carolina Gamecocks last month, and has already planned an official visit with the Pittsburgh Panthers for next month.
Although there’s no specific commitment timeline in mind, Stewart wants to make a decision by the end of the summer and said he will “possibly” early enroll at the school of his choice.
Another trip down to South Florida is also likely to happen in the summer, even though he doesn’t have anything specified yet. Among all those Power 5 Conference offers which have poured in throughout the early months of 2019, the Hurricanes’ remains particularly meaningful.
“Especially coming from my hometown, it was pretty big,” Stewart said. “My family took a lot of visits going down there to Miami, so I was born in Fort Pierce, but I was also a little bit down there.”
“Miami — that’s just a big school. That’s a dream school.”