No. 97 Christian Stewart – Quarterback – 2008, 2013-2014
It is natural to have quite a few quarterbacks on Top 100 list since they are by far the biggest impact players on the team. Christian Stewart has a unique story that got him on this list and an impact and memorable win that Cougar fans will always remember.
Stewart arrived at BYU in 2008 and quickly realized that he was not anywhere near the top the depth chart. There were five other quarterbacks (imagine how some of the players feel today with 9 other quarterbacks) and so he decided to leave and play for Snow College. While at Snow, he led the team to a 11-1 record. After hearing that BYU only had two quarterbacks on their roster who would play in 2013, Stewart took a leap of faith and returned to BYU, knowing well that Taysom Hill had the starting job.
In 2014, the Cougars started 4-0, were ranked as high as 20th in the AP poll, and were honestly looking at a chance of running the table and going undefeated. Unfortanelty, Taysom Hill had to face his kryptonite Utah State and we all know the story.
The season seemed as if it was over. Christian Stewart came in threw three interceptions and the magical season suddenly went from BCS hopes to wondering if the Cougars would make a bowl game. After dropping the next three games, to UCF, Nevada and Boise State. BYU Football was 4-4 and still had Middle Tennessee and California on the schedule.
Then something clicked.
The Cougars finished 4-0 and savaged a 8-4 regular season record. They ended up losing in the Miami Beach Bowl, but that was no fault of Stewarts even though he did throw the final interception. The fact that the BYU defense couldn’t hold Miami to less than 55 points points the blame on them. Most fans have forgotten about the impact and adversity that Stewart had to face to close out the season as well as he did, but when you read about it again, you realize why we shouldn’t forget him among the guys like Riley Nelson, James Lark and even Tanner Mangum.
Impact: B- or D+ depending on who you ask
This is a tough ranking to give because on one hand a pessimistic fan could argue that because Stewart didn’t pick up right where Taysom left off, he ruined the Cougars special season. On the other hand, one could argue that after a tough 0-4 start for Stewart, it would have been really easy to go 2-2 or even 1-3 to finish out the season. The fact that he turned things around and ended up beating Jared Goff and Cal in California gave hope and accomplishment to the team and its fanbase.
Stewart only really played for one season for BYU, in fact he played for 66% of one season for BYU and for the first few games the statistics were not very good. Three interceptions against Utah State, two fumbles lost against Nevada and being sacked 12 times over a three game span are what you could call D- stats. But on the flip side and to finish out the season Stewart threw for five touchdowns against California, accounted for six scores against Savannah State and completed 62% of his passes against MTU. Those stats earn a B+ and so to compromise we will leave it a C.
Memorable Moments: C
Similar to statistics it depends on the viewer. Some will remember the 0-4 start by Stewart and how the season was spiralling out of control. Others will remember beating California and Bronco Mendenhall celebrating with the team in the locker room. For that reason again, we will settle in the middle and rank it as a C. One memorable moment that all fans will have is when Stewart hit Jordan Leslie for a perfect over the shoulder strike in the endzone to pull within 21-24 when the game seemed to be favoring the Tigers.
One final word
Many fans will remember the time with Christian Stewart as a dark and bad time for BYU Football, but at the end of the day, Stewart wasn’t what BYU fans wanted or even needed, he is what they got, and I’m not sure there is any other quarterback that could start 0-4 and then beat Jared Goff on his home turf.