Stewart Begins College Career

In preparation for his enrollment on Wednesday, M.J. Stewart arrived in Chapel Hill a couple of days beforehand for an orientation visit. Though his family accompanied him, Stewart received a glimpse of what his life is going to be like the next four years.

"It's a lot of freedom, it's a different experience, and I just want to see what comes from it," Stewart said. "It's crazy because I'll be a college student and I still feel like a recruit. It just hasn't hit me yet."

Although the three days were technically an unofficial visit – whereas the other midterm enrollees who visited during the same period were on an official visit – Stewart still had player hosts. Fellow defensive backs Tim Scott and Des Lawrence were his hosts, but others – such as Donnie Miles and Greg Webb – were also constantly around him.

"When I'd spend time with one guy, there would be another guy there too," Stewart said. "So we'd all spend time together.

"It was good getting to know them and see how they act, because they're going to be my future teammates. They're really, really cool. They have a philosophy where they want everybody to succeed. They really pride themselves on everybody doing well in the game – not just one star."

Approximately a week before he departed for the visit, Stewart's primary recruiter, Walt Bell, left UNC for a position at Arkansas State.

"That was my man – we basically talked every week," Stewart said. "He's a cool dude and I'm glad he got an opportunity to further his coaching career, but he's not the sole reason why I came to UNC. It's sad that he had to leave, but I'm happy for him. But it didn't change my mind about UNC, at all."

Easing the void created by Bell's departure was Dan Disch, who started communicating with Stewart just before he committed. That communication drastically increased after Stewart's pledge.

"Knowing Coach Disch is going to be my position coach [and] getting to know him early, it was a good thing," Stewart said. "Now I know he's the type of coach that keeps it real – everything he said to me, he just kept it real."

Among other things, Disch kept it real regarding Stewart's playing time prospects at cornerback for UNC.

"He's said there are spots in the defense open, it's just whether I compete for them," Stewart said. "Nothing is guaranteed. There are people that have been here longer than me. I just have to keep learning, study the game, and compete."

It will only be a matter of time before Stewart is competing on UNC's practice fields for spring practice.

"That's what I'm been dreaming about since I started high school," Stewart said. "Spring practice can make or break my college career. I just have to be aggressive, learn something new every day, stay open-minded, and humble myself and I should be good."

Stewart also hopes to avoid the injury bug, especially after being hampered for much of his senior season by a bum ankle, which he injured during a preseason game.

"The ankle is now 100-percent now that I've been able to rest it," Stewart said. "I just pray to God that I don't get injured again."

M.J. Stewart Profile

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