Notes/Quotes/Video (South Carolina Athletics Media Relations)
Photo gallery (photos by Allen Sharpe)
Gamecocks embrace opportunity to showcase talents at pro day (story by Brian Hand)
Brandon Shell at pro day: "I just want to play" (story by Brian Hand)
Wilds believes he can be every down back in the NFL (story by Brian Hand)
Months of preparation and work pays off for Cooper at pro day (story by Kyle Heck)
They believed, while most others did not.
“We knew we were going to be the champions,” Darian Stewart said. “Everything about that season just told us that we were going to be the champions.”
Stewart and the rest of the Denver Broncos were proven right in Super Bowl 50 with the underdog AFC champion Broncos downing favorites and the NFC champion Carolina Panthers, 24-10, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
“We did what we had to do, and we felt like we played our best game of the season that day,” Stewart said at South Carolina’s annual pro day on Wednesday, March 30, at Williams-Brice Stadium.
There to support Gamecock football at pro day, the Super Bowl champion Stewart was a perfect example to look up to for all of the 17 Gamecocks taking part in this year’s pro day.
A three-star prospect coming out of Lee High School in Huntsville, Alabama, the safety finished his Gamecock career with 197 tackles, two interceptions, 22 passes defended, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He made 38 starts as a Gamecock.
Despite a solid college career with the Gamecocks, Stewart went undrafted and signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2010.
Stewart was with the Rams organization from 2010-13 before joining the Baltimore Ravens for the 2014 season. He signed a two-year deal before the 2015 season with the Broncos.
Even before the 2015 season started, Stewart knew he was taking an opportunity with the Broncos that could lead to greatness.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Stewart said. “I got that opportunity, and I knew we had the squad and the leader behind center (Peyton Manning) to get us there.”
The free safety for the Broncos was a huge reason that Denver was able to pick up the Super Bowl title as in total on the year he had 63 tackles, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, an interception and 10 passes defended. He intercepted New England’s Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game before forcing a fumble in Super Bowl 50.
Joined by his godson, Bryce, at pro day, Stewart noted that he expects the Broncos to be right back in the thick of things in the title race in the 2016 season and he is working daily to help make that a reality.
In fact coming off the Super Bowl win over the Panthers, ironically, Stewart is based in the Charlotte area where he works out with fellow Gamecock greats Captain Munnerlyn (Minnesota Vikings) and Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo Bills) daily in the offseason.
Stewart like many former Gamecocks is thrilled with what is taking place at the University of South Carolina.
“It feels great (to be back),” Stewart said. “I just love what they’ve done with the place (Williams-Brice Stadium). It’s amazing.”
Stewart met new head coach Will Muschamp for the first time in person at this year's pro day, but he loves what Muschamp and the new coaching staff are doing to involve the former Gamecocks with the program, and he knows how big that is for the future of the program he loves so much.
“He’s opening the doors for us to do a lot of great things here (and) just keep us coming back for our younger guys,” Stewart said. “It opens up recruiting also, so I think it’s good.”
**Story by Brian Hand/Photo by Allen Sharpe**