ARLINGTON, Texas-While Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Stewart prepares for the challenge playing the Missouri Tigers in the Cotton Bowl, his mind also wonders to a decision he will have to make following the game-one that will affect the rest of his life.
Having concluded his third season as a Cowboy, Stewart has the option of forgoing his last year of eligibility and declaring for the NFL Draft a year early.
"There is a lot of stuff (to consider)," Stewart said. "Definitely not the easiest decision I've ever made in my life. I will pray about it and see what happens."
Stewart said he has talked with everyone he knows that has gone through the same process, including Justin Gilbert. It's appealing to Stewart that Gilbert helped his draft stock by coming back for his senior season, but Stewart is not ready to announce a decision.
"I'm kinda keeping my thoughts and what I want to do between the family," Stewart said. "I really have to sit down and think about some stuff before I make and decisions like that."
Among the various factors to consider is how close Stewart is to getting his degree. Stewart is an education major, according to his official bio. Stewart says he is on track to graduate upon completing his eighth semester.
Stewart also has his family to consider. He has a son who is already more than a year old. What is best for his son will be a big factor in Stewart's decision.
"Definitely because now it's not about you anymore," Stewart said. "It's about your family and your priorities. I understand that. Then again, education is important, too."
Stewart looked ready to put himself in position to be a first or second day draft pick after a breakout sophomore season. Due to many factors, Stewart saw his junior years stats reach about half of the numbers he put up his sophomore year.
The emergence of a healthy Tracy Moore and other threats such as Charlie Moore and Jhajuan Seales caused the ball to be spread around more than 2012. Stewart was also limited by injury, missing two games.
"I understood when Charlie and Tracy and all those guys come back, I wasn't expecting the big numbers, Stewart said. "I was just expecting to play my role, and not trying to do too much and cause problems on the team."
Despite the decline in statistics, Stewart is still looked at by MU defensive backs as OSU's go-to guy.
"No. 5 is a really good route runner," Missouri safety Matt White said. "He gets open, he does a lot in space, as you can see in his punt return game and stuff. He's definitely going to be a challenge."
If Stewart were to leave, he would leave OSU with a big void at wide reciever.
"We would lose a great player," running back Desmond Roland said. "I would lose a brother, I came in with him. Whenever we needed that big play, that spark, he had it. A punt return, a simple screen, a big catch, he made that play. If we lose him, we lose and key part to our offense."
With much to consider, Stewart will make his decision based on the counsel of his family, advice from teammates and prayer.
"I got a lot of stuff I plan on doing just to narrow it down to what I need to do to make the decision a lot easier," Stewart said. "Once I get that done, I'll make my decision."