“It’s Notre Dame,” Chris Stewart said Tuesday of his college decision. “I thought it was pretty evident because Notre Dame was my only (official) visit and originally I planned to take four.
“It came down to Ole Miss and Notre Dame. I was impressed with Ole Miss, and I know they are struggling right now, but sometimes you see something in somebody that you believe in. I saw that in both coach Weis and coach Orgeron. Overall I thought the in bigger picture, life in general without football being considered, Notre Dame was a better choice for me. Not only will I get guidance from one of the best offensive line coaches (John Latina) in the game, and one best head coaches. I get a chance to go in early. Notre Dame has the academics, the school prestige, I just feel in love with the school just being up there. I hadn’t ever been to the school and I fell in love with the entire campus.
“I really liked the athletes,” Stewart said of his future teammates. “I’ve never met players from a college football team that talked so intelligently. They’re just good guys to be around. All of the guys were cool, laid back and they’d speak openly to you about anything.
“The fan base seems as loyal as I’ve ever come across, along with Texas A&M.” he added
“The biggest thing for me is that I see a great opportunity to go in when the program is losing some offensive linemen,” Stewart explained. “And then you have the head man (Charlie Weis) -- I really like him, although I probably won’t like him in a couple months when he’s making me puke everywhere.
“He and coach Orgeron were the closest when it came down to a father figure, a father away from home kind of thing. He (Weis) is the type of guy you can go to and he’ll give you the real spin on things. He won’t sugar coat it for you. He’s going to tell you ‘this is what you need to do’. And he’s a likeable person, someone you can trust. That also played a big role in me decision. Him, coach Haywood and coach Latina. Also the conditioning coaches came from Ole Miss. Coach Mendoza and his staff worked with my sister for awhile so that gave me some background on them
“The hardest thing for me was losing a bunch of college credits,” Stewart said of his credits that won’t transfer to Notre Dame. “Of the 21, I’ll get to keep six of those credits. That was a big sacrifice after how hard I worked the last two years. It’ll still pay-off somewhere. Even with the six I get to keep, then 15 hours my first semester and then after summer school, I’ll be a sophomore starting next year. It was tough giving those credits up, but with a degree from Notre Dame, I think it’ll be worth it.
“With us being the first recruiting class for coach Weis, hopefully we can do what USC is doing now and get some championships. I think the unifying thing is that we know we’re coming in to work. We’re coming in to get something done. You have guys that are immortalized at Notre Dame from 1988 and 1966, you say to yourself ‘why not me?’ Let’s bring America’s team back to greatness.
That’s all the sense of pride I have. I never thought I’d have a chance to make an impact on a team that is my childhood favorite. It’s that sense of pride that wants you to bring the program back to where it was, or not even where it was but make it even better.
“If I get a chance I’d like to get No. 55,” he replied when asked what jersey number he wanted when he reported to Notre Dame.
“All around it’s a great decision and I’m very happy,” he said of his college choice.