The Return of Christian Stewart

BYU quarterback McCoy Hill suffered an injury during the opening practice of spring camp. That prompted Jason Beck to see if maybe there was some eligibility left for senior Christian Stewart. To the surprise of the BYU coaching staff, Stewart has one semester of eligibility allowing him to return for spring camp.

It’s quite an amazing story and one that’s rarely, if ever, heard. A senior quarterback plays his last game, figuring he’s done with college football, but for Christian Stewart that was not the case.

“First of all McCoy Hill gets hurt in our first practice, and the next thing I know we’re in our staff meeting,” said Bronco Mendenhall. “Coach Beck is saying, ‘My plan is to bring Stew back. Then the compliant red flags started going up all over and alarms like a sprinkler or fire alert or something… but it’s legal.”

“[On] Monday towards the end of practice McCoy Hill had suffered an injury, so the early diagnosis was that he would be out for an extended period of time,” said Coach Beck. “The out of the box thought was, ‘Man, I wonder if Stew can come back and take some reps for us?’ After checking with compliance, [we found out] he would be able to since he was in his last semester of eligibility.”

Stewart is making a personal sacrifice in order to help his former team. While he has one semester of eligibility remaining, he won’t be playing in any more college football games, is missing a class that he’ll have to work on outside the classroom, and has to learn some of the new nuances of the offense outside of his position coach’s classroom and execute them on the field. Coach Beck knew he would be making a sacrifice but extended the call to him to see what he thought.

“I called him if he would be willing to and he said he was, so I pitched it to the rest of the staff,” Coach Beck said. “The biggest thing was Stew would be able to help the offense really improve as well as the defense, so he’s going to help the other 21 guys on the field get better throughout spring by taking team reps.”

Stewart, who took over for injured Heisman candidate Taysom Hill last season, has excited his teammates and coaches alike. His return has done wonders for spring camp 2015 and his impact was immediately felt on the field.

“And so it’s amazing that a former player with no game eligibility would be willing and wanting to practice, so it absolutely helped our team out today,” said Coach Mendenhall. “Our defense is getting a really good look as to what an active, mobile quarterback that can throw the ball looks like with experience.

“Our offensive players are developing because again we can throw it, catch it, and we can run our run game at a much higher level and continue to let Taysom to be groomed and grown at the highest level possible. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything like it.”

Already highly respected among his teammates, Stewart’s return just might take him to legend status.

“I said, ‘Crap you’re like gum on my shoe,’” Mendenhall joked. “’I can’t get rid of you no matter if I pull it or stretch it, it just snaps right back.’ Talk about a loyal alumni and I think he was maybe more excited than I was that he gets to play again. Our team, they already loved him before, and no he has idol status.”

Coach Mendenhall then joked with Stewart, who was standing nearby, about getting him a statue made and placing it on Y Mountain.

“In fact there might be a statue under the Y might be good,” joked Mendenhall. “’Hey Stew! Is a statue of you under the Y… would that be okay?’”

“Well, I’m waiting for it,” replied Stewart. “Or it could be right here.”

“Well, you weren’t getting it until you came back under this setting,” Mendenhall replied back with a smile. “But now there’s a chance.”

The return of a senior quarterback, or any player for that matter, to play one more semester, without reward, in order to help his team move forward is one rarely heard of. However, just like when he was called to take the reins of the offense for an injured Taysom Hill, Christian Stewart has once again heeded the call.

Cougar Cam: Christian Stewart

Former BYU quarterback Christian Stewart makes his return to BYU football. Having one semester of eligibility left, Stewart makes his return for spring camp to help the team practice. Here is a video of him talking about his return.

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