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Friday, August 7, 2020

Football

Stewart goes from small town to big time


Sophomore safety Trevon Stewart earned Freshman All-American honors after leading freshmen nationally with 126 tackles.  | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Sophomore safety Trevon Stewart earned Freshman All-American honors after leading freshmen nationally with 126 tackles. | Esteban Portillo/The Daily Cougar

Half of sophomore defensive back Trevon Stewart’s hometown population could fit inside Katy High School without breaking a single fire code. Even though Stewart is from a small town, a quick look at his film will show you that he doesn’t play small.

Stewart led the nation’s freshmen in tackles last year and earned a spot on Conference USA’s All-Freshman team. Now, as the UH defense transforms, everyone is expecting Stewart to be a leader on the field.

“It started in the spring. (Defensive coordinator David) Gibbs told me I was a leader. So every single time I was on the field, I had to just step up and get the people around me going,” Stewart said. “I’ve just been trying to keep everyone in good spirits with positive vibes.”

With 38 tackles so far this season and 10 solo tackles against BYU, Stewart hasn’t let anyone down. He’s just focusing on what Gibbs says he does best — tackling.

“Trevon is a dynamic player and a great tackler. In my opinion, that is the best thing he does,” Gibbs said. “He has a knack for making big tackles, whether they are open-field tackles or close-range tackles. He also plays with a lot of emotion, so I think that’s why fans really enjoy watching him play. He just plays really hard.”

Part of Stewart’s on-field success can be attributed to a different kind of competition: one between him and teammate Adrian McDonald, who, like Stewart, is a sophomore defensive back.

Although the prize is less about wins on the field and more about who pays for Chinese food that night, McDonald believes the competition could lead to more victories for the Cougars.

“Our competition between each other improves the team, I think,” McDonald said. “If we practice whoever gets the most turnovers, that will correlate to what happens during the game. So if we practice hard and try to get the most turnovers, that is what is going to happen in the game.”

And if that friendly outside competition isn’t translating to success on the field, Stewart isn’t afraid to tell his teammates. Stewart likes to be vocal, whether he is just getting everyone pumped up or trying to correct mistakes.

“I’m definitely a vocal leader. I will be fussing at Adrian McDonald on the field like I’m his daddy or something,” Stewart said. “I just like to get everything how it is supposed to be. I want it all to be perfect out there.”

Yelling on the field in large stadiums while surrounded by thousands of fans is a little different than yelling on the fields Stewart played on while growing up.

From the age of five in his hometown of Patterson, La., a town about an hour west of New Orleans with about 6,000 residents, Stewart played on dirt fields in flag football matches with family and friends, with his father serving as the coach.

Stewart played both sides of the ball as a child and all through high school, where he was one of the country’s top corner prospects and earned Class 3A All-State honors as a running back after rushing for 550 yards on just 80 carries.

When Stewart came to UH, he was so used to playing both offense and defense that he asked to do the same for the Cougars. The coaches said no.

But all those years playing in the country did teach Stewart something else that he is bringing to the self-proclaimed “Third Ward Defense” every day.

“Yeah, swag, and that’s about it.”

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