After an impressive second-place finish in its first season in the Big South Conference, the league's media contingent has picked the Stony Brook University's football team to duplicate that finish in 2009. In a preseason poll of the league's head coaches and media released at the annual Big South Football Media Day this afternoon, the Seawolves, who picked up four first-place votes, were predicted to finish second behind 2008 champion Liberty. In addition, four Seawolves were named to the preseason all-conference team; senior running back Conte Cuttino (Uniondale, N.Y.) was named to the team for the second straight year along with, senior linebacker Tyler Santucci (New Kensington, Pa.), senior defensive back Chris Richards (Quartz Hills, Calif.) and sophomore running back Edwin Gowins (Bellport, N.Y.).
Stony Brook closed the 2008 season on a high-note, winning four of its last five to finish 5-6 overall and 3-2 in its inaugural season in the Big South. The Seawolves, who open the 2009 campaign at Hofstra on September 5 at 7:00 p.m., totaled 87 points in the 2009 preseason poll to edge out Coastal Carolina by four for second. Stony Brook's four, first-place votes were the second most behind Liberty, which totaled 109 points in the poll.
Cuttino and Gowins was the only duo in FCS football in 2008 that saw each run for over 1,000 yards and took both running back positions on the 2009 preseason team. A second team All-Big South selection last season, Cuttino finished with a career-high 1,195 yards in 2008 that vaulted him to first all-time at the school with 2,807 career yards. He finished fourth in the Big South in rushing and had six, 100-yard games. Gowins earned the Big South Freshman of the Year award as well as being named the national Freshman of the Year by the College Sporting News after setting a school record with 1,310 yards, a mark that led all FCS freshmen in 2008. In the final two games of 2008, the Cuttino/Gowins pairing broke the NCAA FCS record for combined yards by two backs in a game, setting the mark with 483 yards against Iona and then duplicating the feat against VMI.
Santucci started every game for Stony Brook in 2008, finishing with team-high 79 tackles, a total that was seventh in the conference and earned him second team All-Big South honors. A two-year starter, he also led the Seawolves with five passes broken up. Richards also started every game for Stony Brook a year ago while receiving second team All-Big South accolades after leading the team and tying for third in the Big South with three interceptions from his cornerback position.
Stony Brook opens Big South Conference play on October 3 when it hosts Presbyterian in the first-ever meeting between the two schools in LaValle Stadium at 3:00 p.m.