Nov. 21, 2012
Stein owns a brash confidence, a never-say-die-attitude, an ability to take a risk and an ability to run around and make plays, so it's easy to see why Strong would compare his diminutive quarterback to one of the best to ever play the game. That's how highly Strong thinks of his 5-foot-10 passer.
"Stein means a lot to this football team," said Strong. "He has been a great leader for our team since we have taken over this program. He plays so hard and his teammates respect him so much. I love when he gets into the game and I enjoy watching him play."
Stein, a former walk-on from Trinity High School in Louisville, will be playing his final home game for the Cardinals on Saturday. Despite being small in stature, Stein has been a big figure for the Cardinals both on and off the field.
Last season, Stein began the year as the starting quarterback before suffering a shoulder injury that led to Teddy Bridgewater taking over that role. Stein guided the Cardinals to a 2-1 record, including a win over Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium.
Stein and 12 other seniors will be making their final home appearance on Saturday when the Cardinals host Connecticut at noon to stay in contention for another BIG EAST title. With that still on the line, there will be at stake for the seniors playing in their home finale.
"Not really emotional," said Stein. "It is what it is. It's always going to come to an end in anything you do in life. I'm just going to take it all in, but the main thing is we have to win. You throw all emotions aside. You just have to get the win and hopefully we can get the win next week too."
Despite coming to the program as a walk-on, Stein never thought of himself as someone not good enough to play for a Division I program. He entered school without a scholarship, but did earn one after his sophomore season, and had plenty of higher aspirations during his career for his hometown team.
"Personally, I wanted to start," said Stein. "I did that during my redshirt freshman year. After starting, I wanted to be a scholarship player, which I earned during my sophomore year. As a team, I wanted to make it to a BCS Bowl and win the BIG EAST. We won last year in the BIG EAST, so hopefully we can do it again this year."
It wasn't easy for Stein and the others in the senior class who had to endure a few losing seasons before this group helped turn the fortunes of the football program.
"We all kind of realized what we've been through," said senior wide receiver Scott Radcliff. "We're very successful for what we've done. It's great seeing other guys step up and be leaders and do great on the field."
This senior group has posted a 27-21 record during their time at Louisville, but have huge goals still ahead of them if they can pull off wins in the next two games. At 9-1 and 4-1 in the BIG EAST, the Cardinals need to beat Connecticut on Saturday and turn around five days later to take on Rutgers.
"We have a couple more games left," said Radcliff. "We've had a lot of great memories here, and it's something I'll look back on and remember for the rest of my life. There's still more to get, and hopefully we can get to the Orange Bowl. Just to go to there - I'll never forget that."
If the Cardinals can accomplish those two goals, they can send Stein and the seniors out in style, and Stein can cross off another goal from his list.
The University of Louisville football program is teaming up with Margaret's Moving and Storage and Toys for Tots this holiday season, and is asking fans for their help by donating toys.
Fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to the Connecticut game on Nov. 24. Margaret's Moving and Storage Truck will have boxes located in Street Fest and at each gate for fans to donate toys to this excellent cause.
Toys for Tots will give the toys to families in Louisville that can't afford to provide toys for the Christmas holiday.