EUGENE - One of the greatest running backs in the history of the University of Oregon is giving back to the school where he departed as one of its all-time rushing leaders.
Jonathan Stewart, who set the Ducks' single-season rushing record as a junior in 2007 (1,722 yards) before being drafted with the 13th overall pick by the Carolina Panthers, has announced he will contribute $250,000 toward the construction of the state-of-the-art Casanova Center expansion project, which will house the athletic department's entire football operations.
Stewart's donation will be specifically earmarked for endowment of the Running Backs' Squad Room, which will be located in the teaching wing of the 135,000 square-foot facility.
Included in the project's amenities will be coaches offices, nine dedicated football position meeting rooms, two team video theaters, offense and defense strategy rooms as well as a larger conference suite for the entire coaching staff. The centralized area will be flanked by office and locker facilities for coaches, staff and student-athletes, an advanced video editing and distribution center, a full-service dining facility that will seat approximately 250 guests and be available to all members of the University community, as well as a new 25,000 square-foot weight room overlooking three new football practice fields.
"I feel truly blessed to be in a position to give back to the University of Oregon," Stewart said. "Growing up in Lacey, Wash., I have always felt proud to represent my home state. Through prayer I knew the University of Oregon was the place for me. I am blessed to be a part of such an outstanding legacy at the U of O, where I was able to succeed on the field as a player and grow off the field as a man. I would like to thank my family, former teammates, Coach (Gary) Campbell and Coach (Mike) Bellotti, as well as all of the other Oregon coaches and staff that made such a lasting impression on me. I acknowledge that without God none of these things would be possible. It gives me great pleasure to give back to a place that gave me so much. I know this facility will provide opportunities and resources to enable Oregon to continue to be the best program in the country; once a Duck always a Duck!"
Completing his three-year collegiate tenure second on Oregon's career rushing ledger with 2,891 yards and third in all-purpose yards (4,889), the Lacey, Wash., All-American and fifth-year NFL veteran entered 2012 second on Carolina's all-time rushing list with 3,500 yards. Stewart ran for a single-season best 1,133 yards in 2009 and accounted for 10 touchdowns on the ground in each of his first two seasons. The franchise's leading rusher in 2009 and 2010, he established team records for the most receptions (47) and receiving yards (413) in one season by a running back in 2011.
The project, which will be privately funded through private philanthropy and will include no use of public, state or general university fund dollars, is scheduled for completion during the summer of 2013.
-- GoDucks.com --