Reflecting On An All-Time Great; Adrian College RB Emmanuel Stewart

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Future Adrian College athletic hall-of-famer Emmanuel Stewart is one of the few Division Three athletes with a real chance to be drafted by an NFL franchise. Stewart graduated from the Michigan Division III NCAA school after this football season.

He finished as one of the best athletes in MIAA history and quite possibly the best in school history. The tailback ended his career as a four time first team all conference selection. He was elected to the 2nd team all region for D3 football and was a three time offensive and team MVP.

In addition to this, not once, but twice he was tabbed as a pre-season All-American. Due in part to his accolades and statistics, it’s likely that even if Stewart isn’t drafted, he’ll at the minimum receive an NFL tryout during preseason camps.

The ball carrier graduated from Gibbs High School in 2013, and after being selected to his local all-star team, chose Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan for his next step.

Stewart had played quarterback in high school, but pulled no punches as he switched to a deeper position in the backfield in his new offense

“To be known as the best running back in Adrian College history” – Career record rusher Stewart when asked about his career goals as a Freshman

It was clear after just two seasons he would likely hold every single rushing-record at the storied college. He said it was a personal athletic goal as an incoming Freshman to own all of those records.

The tailback has frequently been referred to as the best athlete in school history. Here’s audio from the moment he reached 5,000-career-yards, on a cold blustery day in Angola, Indiana:

According to, the record breaking ball carrier only fumbled the ball three times while at the school. With over 800 career rushing attempts, and even more touches including his receptions and a few passes, this means that he fumbled on less than .375% of all carries.

Freshman Season:

Stewart was dominant from the moment he first put on the black and gold. He burst onto the scene with 175-yards on 14 carries in 40-14 win over Carthage, including two touchdowns of 60 and 41-yards. After rushing for a team-leading 1,002-yards as a Freshman, the running back turned in a record-breaking encore performance.

Sophomore Season:

He finished with 1,487-yards in 2015 during his sophomore season.

Junior Season:

In his Junior season, he appeared in ten games. A total of 212 carries allowed him to pick up no less than 1,367-yards. He coasted into the end zone an unprecedented 18 times. Stewart was so fantastic, he could have likely never played another down of football at AC and still been known as the greatest ball carrier in school history.

Senior Season:

Stewart faced a flurry of challenges. Mostly that he lost several key blockers on the front end. In spite of this, he turned in another 1,300-yard-season and another 14-rushing-touchdowns.

Career Statistics:

By the time Stewart was finished at Adrian College, he had an astonishing 802-rushing-attempts, for a grand total of 5,159-yards and 56-rushing-touchdowns. Combined, he had 5,902-yards and a total of 60-touchdowns in his four years.

Emmanuel made it clear to MWSN that he was willing to play anywhere on the field to make it onto a professional franchise roster. “I can play multiple positions on offense. What can I bring to a pro team is valuable on and off the field.”

In leagues where a lot of athletes have character issues, a quiet and laid back leader like the running back from Saint Petersburg, Florida could be an excellent fit. As you will see in his career highlights, he is incredibly elusive.

Stewart finished as Adrian’s career leader in rushing (5,164), all-purpose yards (5,902) and scoring (356). His career rushing total ranks 23rd in Division III history, according to the NCAA record book.

According to the NCAA, Stewart’s 5,164 yards make him 14th all-time in NCAA Division III. He is only 100 yards shy of cracking the top 10 on the list.

“He is great a guy and great football player,” Adrian College Head Coach Jim Deere said to me during the season. “The biggest thing I’ll be proud of is when he graduates”

Deere and his coaching staff were on hand when Stewart graduated and walked across the stage at the center of campus.

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