As expected, Anwar Stewart has been named the Kentucky Wildcats’ new defensive line, head coach Mark Stoops announced Friday.
Stewart is a UK alum who played linebacker and defensive end from 1996-99 under head coaches Bill Curry and Hal Mumme. He also served as a student assistant and defensive assistant under Stoops from 2017-18. He helped UK advance to two bowl games and assisted with the development of defensive end Josh Allen, one of the program’s all-time greats and a top-10 NFL Draft pick.
Now 43, Stewart graduated from UK in 2017 with a degree in social work.
“It’s great when we can bring back former players and I’m excited to have Anwar rejoin our staff,” Stoops said in a press release. “I loved the energy and juice Anwar brought to the team during his previous time here. He has been a player and coach on both the pro and college levels, so our players will benefit from his wide range of experience.”
Prior to coaching, Stewart spent 13 years in the CFL, 11 with the Montreal Alouettes and two with the Calgary Stampeders. He won a Grey Cup with Calgary in 2001 and helped Montreal capture Grey Cups in 2002, 2009 and 2010.
Stewart was selected the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2004 and was a CFL All-Star in both 2004 and 2009. He retired in 2013 after racking up 70 career sacks, including 66 with Montreal (second-most in team history). He also snagged 10 career interceptions from his defensive end position. He still holds the Alouettes’ all-time record for career quarterback sacks.
After retirement, Stewart was hired by the Alouettes in 2014 as a defensive quality control coach before being elevated to defensive ends coach in 2015 and defensive line coach in 2016. The Alouettes were among the CFL’s best teams in total defense and sacks each of those seasons.
“I’m very excited to return to where it all started for me,” Stewart said in a press release. “Coach Stoops is doing it better than it’s ever been done before at UK. I know his vision and I know what it takes to coach under him. I’m excited to learn from Coach Stoops, Coach (Brad) White and the other coaches on the staff. I know I will grow as a man and as a father as well.”
During his playing days at UK, the Panama City, Florida native totaled 64 tackles, including nine tackles for loss and eight sacks, playing both linebacker and defensive end. His shining moment came in 1997 when he returned a blocked field goal 68 yards for a touchdown against Alabama, helping send the game into overtime in UK’s dramatic victory over the Crimson Tide.
“It wasn’t too long ago I was sitting where these student-athletes are sitting,” Stewart said. “I’ve been in their shoes, sat in their seats. My time at UK changed my life for the better and made me grow into the person I am today. Now, when I’m talking to a player, I’m mentoring them because I know exactly what they’re going through. I’m excited that I get to mentor them in football and in life because there’s so much more that goes on outside of football. Now, I’m able to come back, coach for my alma mater, and help these kids reach their full potential. It’s a dream come true.”