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When you think big-time football powerhouses, let’s be honest, Stony Brook isn’t at the top of the list. Or in the middle of the list. Heck, it’s not on the list.
Stony Brook? Sounds more like a retirement home than a college.
Nonetheless, the Division 1-AA school, located in Suffolk County, N.Y., along the Long Island Sound, is the alma mater of Eagles rookie tailback Miguel Maysonet.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think for me, they gave me the best opportunity to put me in the position where I am now,” Maysonet said. “I’m excited for Stony Brook, and I’m excited I went there. I wouldn’t change it if I had a chance to do it all over again.”
The Eagles didn’t draft a running back this year, but they signed one, and he’s an intriguing guy.
Maysonet rushed for nearly 2,000 yards as a senior at Stony Brook and ran for more than 5,000 yards in his college career, including 4,725 yards and 48 touchdowns in three seasons with the Seawolves. (Great nickname, by the way.)
He doesn’t have world-class speed and didn’t play at a Division 1 school, so he wasn’t considered an elite prospect. Then again, Brian Westbrook played at Division 1-AA Villanova, so you never know.
And Stony Brook has actually had great success in recent years, going 31-17 the last four years and either winning or sharing the Big South Conference title each year. The Seawolves begin play this fall in the Colonial Athletic Conference and will actually face Temple at the Linc in 2014.
For Maysonet, it was the perfect place to shine.
Maysonet started his career at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., where he rushed for 385 yards as a freshman. He didn’t have to sit out a year and flourished right from the start at Stony Brook, with 1,128 yards and a 6.4 average as a sophomore. He followed that with 1,633 yards, a 6.5 average and 15 TDs as a junior and then 1,964, 21 and 7.4 this past fall.
The way he figures, if he went to a high-powered football program, none of that would have happened.
“We’re a running team,” he said. “That’s what we did there, and my stats and my coaches put me in a position to succeed, and that’s what I did, because I’m here now.”
Maysonet, who ranked third in rushing in Division 1-AA last year, is one of five tailbacks on the roster, but LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown are the only locks, and Brown will have to solve his fumbling problem if he’s going to play.
The other backs on the roster are Chris Polk, who made the team last year as an undrafted rookie, and Matthew Tucker, another rookie undrafted free agent. Tucker ran for 2,618 yards and 33 touchdowns during an outstanding career at Texas Christian.
So the position is wide open. Especially considering Chip Kelly loves to run the ball and likes to keep a lot of running backs on the roster.
That’s one of the reasons Maysonet came here. He believed he had a realistic chance to stick.
“I had a few [other options], but I think the Eagles gave me the best opportunity to play. Honestly, just a great team, new coaches, came into this organization and I think they gave me the best chance to play.
“We have two great running backs who are with me now. [Everything is] all up in the air. I just hope to play my game and show what I can do.”
And what is his game?
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Maysonet is more likely to run over you than away from you.
“I’m tough, I’m feisty, I don’t let the first guy tackle me, and that’s basically it,” Maysonet said during a break in this weekend’s rookie camp. “I’m really determined to score and do what I can do to make the team win.”
This won’t be easy for Maysonet, who has never seen anything like the super-charged practices Kelly likes to run.
He’s facing a transition not only in level of play but style of play.
“I think it’s been very interesting,” Maysonet said. “During practice, it’s really fast-paced, something I’m really not used to. But it’s been fun. I’m taking it day by day and it’s exciting learning a new system.
“I’m just trying to learn everything real fast and get into the playbook as fast as I can.
“[It’s a] real fast pace. But it’s still early in the game, and I’m just taking it all in.”