Bearcat Lair has learned that Cincinnati’s star defensive end, Walter Stewart, will no longer be able to play football due to a congenital defect in his spine. Stewart’s foster father, Keith Fields, told BCL on Monday night that Stewart was born without a “posterior C1 arch” and the problem surfaced after the Fordham game on October 13.
“Walt was injured on the fourth play of the game,” said Fields. “But he continued to play the rest of the game. The acute fracture of the front part of his arch revealed the problem with the C1.”
NFL scouts have been keenly interested in the 6-foot-5, 250 pound defensive end/outside linebacker for months. In fact, one scout recently told Fields that Stewart would have been a top draft pick.
“One scout told me that Walt would have never made it out of the first round,” said Fields. “He said that he meant it and wasn’t just trying to make us feel better.”
After redshirting as a true freshman, Stewart made 41 straight starts for the Bearcats, and his 17.5 career sacks ranks him eighth all-time at Cincinnati.
The talented senior with his unique blend of size, speed and strength has already been missed by the UC defense. Despite missing the last two games, Stewart’s five sacks and seven tackles for loss this season still lead the Black Cat defensive unit.
Earlier this year, Coach Jones gave the senior high praise when he described Stewart as the best leader he had ever coached.