Former Gamecock Darian Stewart is making the most of his NFL opportunity with the St. Louis Rams.
Stewart was a regular for the South Carolina defense from 2006-09. He is tied for eighth all time in passes broken up (since 1981) with 20.
He went undrafted this year but was quickly signed as a free agent by St. Louis and entered the season on the active roster.
Stewart is the Rams' second-team safety but is seeing action so far on special teams (kickoff coverage and punt returns).
Describe the overall NFL experience so far.
It's been a wonderful experience so far. Not everybody gets the opportunity to do this, so I'm just making the most of it and trying to get better each day.
Were you disappointed at all when you didn't get drafted, or were you confident you'd get a shot as a free agent?
I didn't expect to go as a free agent, but that happens. You have to forget about it, and when you get that opportunity you make the most of it.
Talk about NFL "cutdown day" and the emotions of that time.
I was nervous, but at the same time I knew I did the best I could.
How did you know you made the final roster?
When I didn't get a phone call. I was in a meeting, so I figured I was on the team. I was ready to go.
Who did you call first when you knew you made the team?
The first person I called was my mom. She's been my biggest supporter, so she deserved a call first. It was just a bunch of screaming when I talked to her.
How much did you play in the Rams' first game and what was that like?
I played mostly special teams. I didn't get in on defense. Just seeing the field, it was a good experience.
How is the NFL different from college?
It's not too different. The tempo is a lot different. Other than that, it's pretty much the same. It's still football at the end of day.
What do you miss about being at South Carolina?
I miss my teammates, the fans and running out to "2001."
Have you been able to keep up with the Gamecocks this season?
Most definitely. I was all into the Georgia game last week. I was rooting for them. I'm glad they got the W. They're looking very good. I'm happy for them. I hope it continues.
Being from Alabama, do you have a prediction for USC's games against Auburn and Alabama?
I know we're going to win. Well, that's who I'm going for. Hopefully we can get the W. Playing in Auburn is going to be a tough task for them, but I feel like we can do it.
I read somewhere that you like to cook. Have you had much time for that?
Not yet. I'm looking forward to that. I haven't had the opportunity just yet. It's coming.
Is it safe to say being in the NFL is a dream come true?
That's what you put in all the work for, for this opportunity right here. It's the life that you wanted to live. I'm just making the most of it.
Have you been able to hit (No. 1 overall draft pick) Sam Bradford in practice?
(Laughing) I'm not sure anyone wants to hit him in practice. If you do, you wouldn't be here.
Now that you've made the team, how tough is the road ahead?
It's very tough. You could be here one day and gone tomorrow. Every day that you come to work, you've got to be willing to put in the work - hard work. You're never safe here. So I'm coming to work every day.