Lifelong Friends DeShawn Stewart and De’zie Jones Excited to Play for Ohio State Together

By Garrick Hodge on April 7, 2024 at 10:10 am
De'zie Jones and DeShawn Stewart

From little league flag football to the high school gridiron, all DeShawn Stewart and De’zie Jones have known is playing on the same field as each other.

Jones has been a standout wide receiver throughout his football career, while Stewart has played safety the past two seasons after converting from wideout his sophomore year. At DePaul Catholic High School (Wayne, New Jersey) practices, the talented 2025 recruits are relentlessly competing against each other, believing iron sharpens iron.

“Guarding me has probably helped give him one of the biggest upgrades in his game,” Jones told Eleven Warriors of Stewart. “I’ve had more experience at my position and he just started a few years ago, so he’s getting better every day.” 

Things can get chippy on the practice field between the talented pair who’ve known each other since they were five years old, but both love the competition and root for each other in all other aspects. 

“We’ve gone at it all throughout high school,” Stewart said. “It’s a great feeling getting to play (against each other in practice). If you hear us on the field, you might not think we’re friends with the amount of trash we talk to each other. But then again, as soon as we’re off the field, we’re best friends. It’s like nothing ever happened. I can’t wait to continue that at the next level.” 

The duo, both considered four-star prospects in the 2025 recruiting class per 247Sports’ composite rankings, have long desired to continue their lifelong friendship on the field at the collegiate level. Both players realized Ohio State was the ideal place to do just that, as each gave their verbal commitment to the Buckeyes within 24 hours of one another last weekend. 

The tandem had been comparing notes on different schools in their recruitment for the past few months, with both having similar schools in their top three. Stewart, who was offered by OSU in January, was the first of the pair to visit Columbus on March 23 and instantly fell in love with the campus and coaching staff. 

The safety prospect started weighing the pros and cons of Ohio State and told Jones he planned on committing to the Buckeyes soon. After a few days went by, he initially waited to commit publicly because his mother and uncle advised him to go through the process a bit more before pulling the trigger. But Stewart couldn’t help but feel admiration and love for OSU’s coaching staff and culture in the building. 

When Jones visited campus himself a week later, he experienced the same feelings as his high school teammate. He didn’t hesitate to give his commitment to Brian Hartline on the spot, even though Ohio State’s co-offensive coordinator made it very clear what his expectations were if he wanted to join the class.

“He knew that I had official visits set up before I committed so he let me know that if I wanted to become a Buckeye, no more visits to other schools,” Jones said. “If you’re going to do this, be 100 percent. He was giving me a rundown and also congratulated me and told me he was excited. And I’m excited too.

“What made me want to become a Buckeye was the opportunity to learn from the experienced wide receivers that are there already and alumni that can teach me more about the school. They have produced the best receivers over the years and I feel like I’ll be developed the best by that school. I trust the coaches and love the culture over there and the tempo of how they practice.” 

Shortly before Jones posted his commitment publicly on March 30, he sent Stewart a message letting him know he was going to commit. His message was pretty simple.

“You better get your edit ready, bro. Let’s do this thing.” 

Stewart didn’t need to wait any longer after hearing that. He committed to the Buckeyes one day later.

“When he did it, I knew there was no other place we could be,” Stewart said. “This is the place.

“I noticed how close the defensive backs were,” Stewart said while recalling his visit. “They started off their meeting with a little mini-game together. Coach Tim Walton is passionate in the room and on the field, really everywhere. Coach Matt Guerrieri, man, he’s like the top of the top. We’re really close and I like him a lot more than anyone in the country right now. It would be a blessing to play for him.” 

Walton and Guerrieri both played a crucial role in OSU landing Stewart, with the latter excitedly welcoming Stewart into the fold after his commitment but cautioning him this is only the beginning of his football journey and that there’s a lot more work to be done. Stewart said OSU has told him he’ll likely be a nickel in Jim Knowles’ defense, but will give him the opportunity to play cornerback if he desires. 

“Playing in The Shoe, man,” Stewart said when asked what he’s most looking forward to about playing at Ohio State. “When I walked into that stadium, nothing compared. It was next level and where I wanted to be. And playing the team up north, it’s the greatest rivalry in all of sports and it’s going to be a different feeling.” 

Stewart and Jones will return to Columbus together as commits on April 13 to watch the Buckeyes participate in their spring game. The utter shock of both of them getting to live out their dream still hasn’t worn off yet, they said.

“That’s the most shocking thing ever, bro,” said Jones, who will be a slot receiver for OSU. “I’ve known that guy since our flag football days and know we’re going to the same college. We’ve played in the same little league and on the same high school team. It’s just insane. I can’t believe it myself.”

The duo both say they don’t envision taking any official visits this summer other than to Ohio State and are looking forward to seeing a lively atmosphere at Ohio Stadium next weekend. 

“I can’t wait to be in that environment,” Jones said.

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