MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Fifteen years have passed since Blaine Stewart stood next to his father Bill on a podium in Arizona, accepting the Fiesta Bowl Trophy. The Morgantown High School graduate has returned to West Virginia as the Mountaineers’ tight ends coach. Stewart and his mother Karen have been warmly welcomed to the program by head coach Neal Brown.
“My mom still lives off Stewartstown Road. She lives five minutes from here,” Stewart said. “This is home. Coach Brown, Coleman [Barnes], Patrick [Johnston], everyone to welcome my mom and I back last summer to show her the building and spend some time with her and let her know even when I wasn’t working here that she should feel comfortable in this program and in this building, that meant the world to me.”
Stewart was officially added to the WVU staff in late-January.
“The first time I pulled in for my interview, I got goosebumps. I really did. When I pull in this parking lot, it brings back a lot of memories. Every day I am appreciative.”
Following the end of his college playing days at the University of Charleston, Stewart joined Mike Tomlin’s staff with the Pittsburgh Steelers and he served in a variety of roles over four seasons.
“It was a really good experience for me to say, ‘Guys, this is going to be the process. If you take care of your business and align these things, it is really boxes to check. Are you going to check these boxes to prepare yourself to get an opportunity?’ (in the NFL). That’s all you can really get at the next level.”
Stewart is in charge of a group of tight ends that features transfer portal additions and returners like Treylan Davis.
“You say go and they ask how far. They have done a really good job. I am excited about the room because I think we have a bunch of different roles to be found in that room. I think we have guys with unique skill sets that can help the offense.”
LSU transfer Kole Taylor was perhaps West Virginia’s most high-profile addition from the portal during the offseason.
“The biggest thing he adds is a mindset that I am excited about. He and I have really gotten off to a good start. I think his athletic ability speaks for itself. He runs really well for a big man and he has good ball skills.”
Freshman TJ Johnson is an early enrollee and he is the son of one of Bill Stewart’s former players, Tory Johnson Sr.
“He has done a really good job jumping into this program full speed. Tory Johnson, Adam Jones, Rasheed [Marshall], those are all the guys that were kind of in that first wave of Mountaineer football that changed this place in the early-2000’s. It is cool to have a relationship not only with those three but so many guys from the past that have reached out. It has been really cool to almost be a bridge to that era of Mountaineer football.”
(Blaine Stewart press conference)