Following in the fresh footsteps of Houston quarterback D’Eriq King and wide receiver Keith Corbin, West Virginia safety JoVanni Stewart is considering pulling himself from the remainder of the season, using his redshirt and pursuing a graduate transfer elsewhere in 2020, according to multiple reports out of West Virginia.
Stewart will sit out WVU’s game Saturday versus No. 11 Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) for “personal reasons” as he contemplates a transfer.
A 5-foot-8, 196-pound starter at West Virginia’s “spear” linebacker position, Stewart has started all four games to date for the Mountaineers this fall, collecting 17 tackles with one tackle for loss and two pass breakups. The Katy, Texas, native played in 37 games over his first three seasons, cracking the starting lineup as a Sam linebacker last season, a year in which he tied for fourth on the team with 54 tackles, four sacks, 10.5 TFLs and a fumble recovery.
Stewart has not used his redshirt year which means, per the NCAA’s new redshirt rule that passed last year, he can sit the rest of the season, count his four games in 2019 as a redshirt and transfer elsewhere to play in 2020.
Stewart is the third player to pursue such a move, following King and Corbin at Houston. All three players are fourth-year seniors, and all three are playing under new head coaches. Ironically, the situation all three find themselves in was triggered when Dana Holgorsen left West Virginia for Houston in January. Clemson-turned-Mizzou quarterback Kelly Bryant and Oklahoma State-turned-Tulane wide receiver Jalen McCleskey executed similar moves in 2018, though both players left due to a lack of playing time and King vacated a starting position in order to upgrade his personal situation.
Playing in another game would void those plans, which is why the underdog Mountaineers will be without one of their best, most experienced defenders as the Longhorns come to town on Saturday and, perhaps, in perpetuity.