Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Graham Stewart happy to be home

If Graham Stewart wondered whether he made the right decision when he left Florida to transfer to UConn so he could be closer to home they disappeared late last week.

Stewart's sister was getting married on the same day that UConn opened its preseason camp. As passionate as Stewart is about football, he knew that this is one day that football was second on his list of priorities so he missed the opening practice with the blessing of UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni.

“That was tough for me,” Stewart said. “I told her ‘look, I am just not going to be there.’ All jokes aside, I am so happy for my sister. I did miss the first practice which did suck but I am here now and I am not going anywhere.

“It was awesome. You never know how it is going to go until you see you sister or your brother walking down that aisle but it was an emotional, happy time.”

Stewart admits it would have been a tougher scenario if he were still enrolled at Florida,

“Would I have been able to come all the way back if I was in Florida, the chances behind that are probably slim to none,” Stewart said. “It meant a lot for me to be there and be a groomsman and just see my sister being wed.”

It didn’t take long after Stewart hit the practice field for him to earn a spot with the starting unit alongside All-American candidate Yawin Smallwood and Ryan Donohue as UConn tries to move on after losing Jory Johnsn and Sio Moore (who combined to start 59 career games) to graduation.

“Being able to sit out last year, watching them and watching film the good thing was I was able to pick up the good traits from both of them,” Stewart said. “They are both guys who can play in the NFL and Sio is excelling (with the Oakland Raiders). I see myself fitting into Sio’s old role but putting my own stamp on the position.“I feel strong being able to pass rush and blitz but at the same time being able to cover a lot of ground.”

As much as Stewart is eager to make impact plays for the revamped UConn defense, he is driven even more by helping UConn shake off the frustration from back to back 5-7 seasons. Winning is nothing new to Stewart as he came out of the highly-successful Xavier program. Stewart joins redshirt freshman defensive end Sean Marinan and true freshman quarterback Tim Boyle to give the Huskies three Xavier graduates on the roster. The strong-armed Boyle has made an immediate impression during the first week of preseason camp.

“We are proud of that,” Stewart said. “We come from a program that is used to winning and we want to win. Sean is my closest friend and Tim is out slinging the ball and looking like Tom Brady which I know he wants to. I have a long extensive history with Tim, I know the type of person Tim is and Tim is the kind of guy who is always in the film room studying and he is a football junkie. He is going to do what it takes to get the job done at the end of the day.”

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