From staff reports
BJ Stewart announced on Twitter he had signed with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, which likely would make him the first Cumberland player ever to sign with an NFL team.
There was no announcement on the Cowboys' website as of late Monday afternoon.
But Stewart told the Rome [Ga.] News-Tribune he was contacted by the Cowboys on Saturday, the third and final day of the NFL draft, and signed a contract Sunday.
"It really is a dream come true," Stewart told the News-Tribune by phone. "Being a kid, my family always told me I would play in the NFL, so it's just a dream come true."
Dating to the 1960s, the Cowboys were one of the first NFL teams to sign athletes who made their initial mark in other sports. Stewart followed that path as well, having signed with Cumberland as a wrestler after winning two Georgia championships in that sport for Rome's Pepperell High School.
As a Cumberland sophomore, he spent two weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation and finished 10th in the NAIA as a heavyweight in 2009-10.
He switched to football that fall and, since he had not played that sport collegiately, gained a redshirt year enabling him to spend a fifth year on campus last season. He started three games at defensive end as a sophomore and nine as a junior before moving to tight end as a senior.
Stewart led Cumberland last fall with 21 catches for 396 yards [an 18.9-yard-per catch average] and five touchdowns. In the season opener against Kansas Wesleyan, he tipped a high throw to himself and hurdled a defender while running downfield, putting the 6-foot-4, 263-pounder on the NFL's radar.
He played in the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic in January and displayed his wares before eight teams a month ago. Stewart, rated 26th out of 98 tight ends by NFLdraftscout.com, was recently in Dallas for combine training.
"I feel like I accomplished a goal and it feels great," Stewart told his hometown newspaper. "But I just feel like I'm not done yet.
"I have a long career ahead, and I feel like I have the ability to play in the league for a long time and be an NFL superstar."
The Cowboys are scheduled to hold a three-day rookie orientation session for their seven draft picks and 15 other free agents beginning May 10 at their Valley Ranch practice facility in Irving, Texas.