Book Review: The Walk-On: Inside Northwestern’s Rise from Cellar Dwellers to Big 10 Champs

I don’t know about you, but I live and breath football.  I also want to read good books about the game I love so much.

Occasionally, I will search online for book recommendations for good college football books, and the reviews are scarce.

Therefore, I would like to help readers of this blog find some really good books to read on such a fun sport.

Type into your Google search engine, or whichever one you choose, ‘best college football books’ and things like ‘College Football: the 50 Greatest Books on the Sport‘ comes up by Bleacher Report. The article is written by the Bleacher Report NBA Lead Writer. Huh? What does an NBA writer know about college football books?

Then, it becomes a Who’s Who of Notre Dame early day football books. I do have an interest in

Notre Dame football, but not from the 1930s and 1940s. I don’t really care about the 4 Horsemen or Knute Rockne, but I would be very interested in more modern day football history.


There just doesn’t seem to be many helpful sites out there to find good football reading.

Believe it or not, everybody that suits up to play high school football is not another Joe Montana or a Lawrence Taylor.

The vast, vast majority of players are really not good enough to play major college football, or attract the attention of college football coaches. Or, they could even be a late bloomer that falls through the cracks.

I have a soft spot for those that aren’t exactly blue chip recruits but they still have a desire to play college ball.

My nephew was a walk-on at a Division 1 college and so was my Son-in-law’s brother, Chris Stone,  who I wrote about here:

My nephew, Justin Taylor, is an Athletic Director and a head football coach at a small high school and didn’t have time for interviews. But, I am hoping to get his story on here this summer.


Just like Justin Taylor and Chris Stone, Matt Stewart was a high school football player that wasn’t quite through with football.  Matt Stewart grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and decided to take a shot at college football at Northwestern. The Northwestern Wildcats are a member of the Big 10 Conference and before the arrival of Gary Barnett in the mid 1990’s, they were continuously in last place in the football standings.
This is a very well written book which I highly recommend to anyone that has any interest in college football at all. You can purchase the book at his website with link provided below:


Or, try or Barnes and Noble.


I’ve read a lot of books in my day and some of them just grab you from the beginning and pull you in and you don’t want to put it down. This book is one of those late night page turners where you keep

looking at the clock knowing fully well that you need to try and get some sleep but the book is just interesting.


Matt Stewart goes into great detail describing the highs and lows of being a college student and a football player. He gives outstanding detail about all the work involved with playing and the struggles especially placed upon a Walk-on football player many of which have no shot at ever seeing a minute of playing time in a real game.

These guys are super important to a football program, yet they get little respect from their coaches or their fellow players.


Matt Stewart not only sticks it out and plays four years for the Northwestern Wildcats, he really does help his team escape from their yearly place at the bottom of the Big 10 standings to the actual champions  of the Big 10.

This book is an inspiration to anyone currently playing football.


But, even more so, this book is an inspiration to anyone in any place of their life.


Take me for example. Every day I think about quitting this blog. Every day I think about the two college football books I am working on and I think who am I to be writing such things.

Just like Matt Stewart experienced in his days as a Walk-on, life is full of ups and downs. Some days are just better than other days and the worst days make it hard to keep going sometimes. I normally don’t read through the Acknowledgements section of a book, but I did with this one. To quote Matt Stewart in his very last words: if your heart if filled with passion and determination, if you never lose conviction, then anything in this world is possible.

Those are great words to live by and this book should be required reading for anyone thinking about giving up.

If you are looking for a great book about college football, I highly recommend The Walk-On: Inside Northwestern’s Rise From Cellar Dweller to Big Ten Champ.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Walk-On: Inside Northwestern’s Rise from Cellar Dwellers to Big 10 Champs

  1. Pingback: Matt Hartl Northwestern | College Football Crazy

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