University of Cincinnati senior defensive end Walter Stewart will most likely never play football again due to a neck condition discovered after an injury he suffered against Fordham
It was revealed Monday Stewart was born without a posterior c1 arch in his neck, which could prevent him from suiting up for the Bearcats again.
“Walt was injured on the fourth play of the game,” Stewart’s foster father Stephen Fields told Tim Adams of BearcatLair.com. “The acute fracture of the front part of his arch revealed the problem with the C1.”
Although UC has yet to confirm the news about Stewart’s future in football, it is clear Stewart’s chances of playing again are slim.
“I do [think its premature to say Stewart will never play football again], maybe in another week or two,” said UC head coach Butch Jones. “You’ve got to understand this is a young man and a family that’s gone through gamete of emotions. You play an entire football game and you come in on Monday and you go through a week of testing and they say football maybe taken from you for the rest of your life and really all his life all he’s known is playing football.
Stewart’s early season performances had the 6’5 senior on pace to be a sure all-Big East conference selection — he was selected Big East defensive player of the week for his dominant showing in UC’s season opening victory against Pittsburgh.
Despite missing the last two games, Stewart still leads the Bearcats in sacks (5) and tackles for loss (7). UC has lost both of its games in Stewart’s absence.
Although Stewart will never suit up for the Bearcats again, he has already been offered a spot on the UC coaching staff.
“He has as strong foundation of any individual his age I’ve ever been a part of and he’s taking it exceptionally well. He is realistic, he is just kind of deciding what he wants to do with his life if football playing is not there and obviously I’m trying to try and convince him to give coaching a try because I think he can impact lives on a day to day basis,” Jones said. “I fully anticipate him doing that, if playing football is out of the realm I think you will see him on the sideline with us.”
Jones emotionally ended his press conference with praise for Stewart.
“I’m just blessed to have been able to coach him for a little over three years,” Jones said.