Instead of on defense, the redshirt senior found his calling on special teams after being converted from defensive back to punter by former Governors coach Will Healy and special teams coach Max Thurmond.
“They needed a punter and they asked if someone could kick the ball,” Stuart said in a story on Clarksville.com. “I stayed after one day, kicked one for Coach Thurmond. He had me kick another one and we went from there.”
As a freshman, Stuart booted a 66-yard punt against Tennessee Tech and two more over 50 yards against Murray State.
He hasn’t slowed since.
As a sophomore, Stuart broke the program record for the highest punt average for a season: 41.48 yards on 48 punts. Also called on for his athletic ability, he converted on fourth-and-15 by taking off for a 21-yard run on a fake punt against Eastern Illinois.
He followed up with a junior season in which he averaged 41.03 yards on 58 punts, the third-highest season total in program history. Seventeen of his punts resulted in fair catches, 12 were pinned inside the 20-yard line and eight went for 50 yards or longer.
Stuart, a sports broadcasting major whose father, Robert, played at Lees-McRae, had another offensive highlight earlier this season against Central Arkansas. Facing fourth-and-10, he converted another fake punt by connecting with Prince Momodu on a 20-yard pass play.
“I’ve been asked to throw it, run it, pitch it, anything. I love to mix it up,” Stuart said. “That’s kind of why I want to be a punter. I like to bring a different game and carry a different twang to the game.”
Stuart continues to show a strong leg. In a season-opening 41-10 win over North Carolina Central, he punted 10 times for a better than 40-yard average and pinned the Eagles inside the 20 on three occasions.