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Following the best rushing season in York-Adams League history, York High standout Dayjure Stewart will become an NCAA Division I football player.

The 6-foot, 200-pound bellcow announced his commitment to NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision Illinois State on Twitter Tuesday. Stewart said he is receiving a full-ride scholarship to play football for the Redbirds.

“It was a hard decision,” Stewart said. “I went on my official visit to Illinois State, and it felt like home. It felt like a good time to get away from York. It gives me an opportunity to spread my wings and challenge myself in a new place.”

York High head coach Russ Stoner, who is friends with ISU offensive coordinator Kurt Beathard, said Stewart being a Redbird is a great fit.

“I think he has the chances of walking on and being their starting tailback,” Stoner said. “It’s not going to be easy, but I don’t think he can get a better fit. It’s one of the best FCS programs in the nation.”

Why ISU?: Illinois State is coming off a 6-5 season last year out of the Missouri Valley Conference — one of the top FCS conferences in the nation, with perennial powerhouse North Dakota State as the league’s best team. In recent years, the Redbirds have been a consistent top-25 program, with FCS playoff appearances in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2014, Illinois State lost to NDSU 29-27 in the national championship game.

“That’s great football out there,” Stoner said. “Now the real work starts. Some guys think when they commit that they got to the top of the mountain. They are actually at the bottom now. He loves football. He’ll do a great job. A free education and playing football will jump start him going into his future.”

Illinois State was the first school to offer Stewart, who also held offers from Albany, Morgan State and Division II West Liberty. The Redbirds made their offer during his junior year. Since then, Stewart said they’ve stayed in contact with him and remained interested.

“They’ve been there in my corner the whole time,” Stewart said. “They were always sending me mail and keeping in contact. They were so passionate. I already felt a part of the family. Now I’ve got to go grind and stay on top of my grades. I’ve got to work hard and play for my spot.”

Stoner said Beathard, who is the son of Hall of Fame NFL general manager Bobby Beathard, “loves” Dayjure as a football player, and the York High head coach is excited to see Stewart play for his friend.

“That makes you feel good when one of your buddies is recruiting one of your kids, because you know he’ll take care of him,” Stoner said.

Historic 2018 season: Stewart, who was an all-state running back in Class 5-A, was the Bearcats’ leader in York High’s best football season in at least 30 years.

The senior running back was the York-Adams League Division I Offensive Player of the Year. He totaled 3,045 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns to lead the Bearcats (11-2) to a share of the D-I title and a District 3 semifinal berth. The 3,045 yards is a new Y-A League single-season record, breaking Eastern York running back Alex Cooley’s record by 200 yards. He averaged 11 yards a carry in his historic season.

Stewart had several impressive performances this season, but none were more impressive than his 468-yard, four-touchdown game against Northern York in the first round of the District 3 playoffs, in which he broke the District 3 record, previously held by West York's Brandon Real, by 62 yards.

Other commits: Stewart is the second York High player to get a full scholarship to a Division I school in the last two years. Last year, running back Khalid Dorsey received a full scholarship to Howard University, where he played this season.

"I can't be happier," Stoner said. "Two kids playing Division I football on full scholarships from York City. It's awesome."

Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at jmeyer@yorkdispatch.com

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