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Former Northwestern WR Sidney Stewart Trying To Catch His Dreams

Article By on 25th February, 2011

Sidney Stewart was just 12 years old when his life changed forever.

In the fall of 2001, a fire started in the Stewart family’s kitchen. While he and his family members rushed outside to escape the flames, Stewart noticed his dad was not among them.

Being the family man that he was, Stewart bolted into the house. Once inside, he found his father still trying to fight the flames. Knowing the fire could erupt into a fireball any moment, Stewart grabbed his father and darted outside.

However, in the process of saving his father, and unbeknownst to Stewart, his shirt caught on fire. Fortunately outside the house, his brother, Charles, was able to put out the fire on Stewart’s body.

As a result, Stewart suffered burns to parts of his body, but also saved his father from a far worse fate. He insists the pain he endured was worth the incredible pride he received from saving his father’s life.  

“Some call it courageous, some call it stupidity,” Stewart said. “It was a natural reaction. When one of your family members is in trouble, you do everything you can to help.”

Every time Stewart is about to catch the ball with a defender breathing down his back ready to attempt a highlight-reel hit, he knows the courage needed to catch the ball in traffic pales in comparison to the courage he displayed on that fateful day back in 2001.

Stewart came to Northwestern from Farmington Hills, Mich., where was he was a top-ranked multi-purpose football threat and star hurdler on the track and field team.

After redshirting his freshman year and further learning the offense his second year, Stewart saw significant playing time in his third year before breaking out as one of Northwestern’s starting wide receivers the past two years.

Key in Stewart’s ascension to starting wide receiver was his dedication to working out and refining the intricacies of his game.

“Sidney is a very hard worker. He’s the type when he puts his mind to something, nothing can steer him off the course,” said Justan Vaughn, Stewart’s teammate and close friend. “As a workout partner, he helps me a lot too because I’ve got to work that much harder just to match his intensity.”

Also crucial, however, was Stewart’s brother, who not only put out the fire on Stewart’s body, but also was a source of football knowledge. Two-and-a-half years Stewart’s senior, Charles was a defensive back at the University of Michigan from 2004 to 2008.

“He was a big help for me, especially in my early years,” Stewart said. “We would bounce ideas off of each other, workout together in the summers and just talk about the game.”

Now that Stewart has a degree in hand and his college career is over, he is ready for the next step in his football life. He knows, however, that both his football and academic education at Northwestern will pave the way for future success. No matter where he goes, however, he will continue to stay close with his family.

“Sidney, he is real big into family,” Vaughn said. “I went with Sidney and his family to Cancun, and I got to see how much he cares about his family. He was always making sure everyone was entertained and became involved in the activities we were doing in Cancun.”

When reflecting back upon his time at Northwestern, Stewart is proud of what he accomplished.

“I think I had a great career,” Stewart said. “I was able learn a lot from the older guys who helped lead the way when I was younger. It was a great learning experience, and eventually I was able to create my own legacy. And then as the older guy, I was able to give back and help teach the younger players.”

Since Northwestern’s 2010 season ended, Stewart has been working out at TCBoost in Northbrook, Ill., trying to improve his game for Northwestern’s Pro Day in early March. At TCBoost, Stewart’s routine has consisted of strength training, route running and technique work, among other things.

In fact, when Chicago was hit with 20-plus inches of snow in one night during the beginning of February, Stewart and training partner Vaughn drove out to TCBoost in blizzard conditions ready to train. There was one problem, however: TCBoost was closed for the day.

“If I want to be successful at the next level, I have to improve my game,” Stewart said. “I have to perfect running routes, quick slants, out routes, all those routes within 15 yards. I just have to get up every morning with the goal of continuing to get better.”

Stewart hopes to latch on with an NFL team this year regardless of his entry into the league and has recently secured a private workout with the Chicago Bears in April.

“Hopefully I’ll get a team that likes what they see at the Pro Day, and they will take a chance on me,” he said. “I just want to get my foot in the door and prove people wrong.”

Stewart knows he does not have the same profile as some of the NFL Draft’s top-ranked wide receivers like A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but being under the radar has provided him with extra motivation to keep improving his overall game every day.

“There are people that haven’t paid attention to me as much as I want, but such is life,” he said. “I am just going to do my best to change that.”

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