Monday, August 1, 2011

Big South media day dispatch: Stony Brook - Chris Lang, The News and Advance - Lynchburg, Va.

Chris Lang, The News and Advance - Lynynchburg, Virginia
One of the biggest questions for Stony Brook heading into the 2011 season was how Seawolves coach Chuck Priore would utilize the talented running-back trio of Edwin Gowins, Miguel Maysonet and Brock Jackolski.

Make that a tailback duo.

Gowins left school last week and will try to play at a Division III school, Priore said at the Big South media day in Charlotte. The oft-injured Gowins was considered the team’s top backfield option heading into the 2010 season, but he played in only two games and ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries before getting injured again.

Gowins was a potential 1,000-yard back, so the loss is significant, but that loss is dampened considerably by the returning production from Maysonet and Jackolski, who each hit the 1,000-yard mark last season. Gowins earned first-team All-Big South honors in each of his first two seasons, and he was named the College Sporting News’ national freshman of the year in 2008.

That made Priore’s decision to take on both Hofstra refugees—Jackolski and Maysonet—a curious one. It certainly paid off.

“I took a little bit of flack for taking two running backs with having that situation,” Priore said. “First of all, I took two great kids who were looking for an opportunity to stay home. And they’re two obviously good football players. In football, you know, things are always changing. You never know what’s going to happen. Stony Brook was fortunate enough to have Brock and Miguel, and Brock and Miguel were fortunate enough to have Stony Brook.”

Maysonet, who ran for 1,128 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, recounted the path he took from Hempstead on the western end of Long Island to Stony Brook on central Long Island after Hofstra disbanded its program following the 2009 season.

“When you first hear about the news, you’re like, nah, it’s not true,” Maysonet said. “Then I walked over to the stadium and I see all of the guys outside crying and I’m like, wow, it really is true. The first thing I did was call my head coach from high school to tell him about the news. Then right after that, I went home that weekend, and I’m driving home and Stony Brook calls and says, ‘You have a home here.’ So that was just a blessing. I didn’t even have to go through the whole recruiting thing. Stony Brook had a good thing going there.”

—Stony Brook was active again in the transfer market, and the Priore landed a few who have potential to be high-impact players right away.

* Masengo Kabongo, DL, Maryland. He was a four-star recruit in 2008 out of Stratford, Conn., who was rated the second-best high-school player in Connecticut. He didn’t play in 2010. He was originally born in the Congo and moved to the U.S. with his parents at age 12.

* Kevin Norrell, WR, Washington State. Norrell spent last season at El Camino Junior College in California after catching 11 passes for 124 yards as a freshman at Washington State.

* Fernando Diaz, OL, Pittsburgh. Diaz grew up in the Bronx and spent two years at Pitt, redshirting in 2009. He originally chose Pitt over UConn and Army. He’s a big body who can run block, a key in Stony Brook’s grinding offense.

* Dan Mulrooney, S, Boston College. He spent three years with the Eagles, redshirting one year. He only played in two games last season, but Priore said he’ll be key in replacing former SBU safety Arin West.

How is Priore consistently drawing such talent out to the middle of Long Island?

“I think they’ve jumped into the vision,” Priore said. “Any time you can sell the statement, ‘Look where we were four years ago, and look where we are today,’ people understand the investment of finances. We’ve got five away trips, and five charters. We’re doing things at the I-A level financially. I think kids are excited about joining that type of progress, because they see constant improvements. We’re building a $38 million rec center. We’ve got a brand new weight room being built for football right now as we speak. Plus, I think New York is exciting. We’ve got a great education opportunity for them, a place to socially have a good time as well as compete at a very high level.”

—With all of the talk of running backs at Stony Brook, quarterback Michael Coulter sometimes gets lost. He doesn’t put up flashy stats, but he was incredibly effective last season. He completed 133 of 210 passes for 1,811 yards and 17 touchdowns while throwing 10 interceptions. And with a speed complement to Matt Brevi and Jordan Gush in town in Norrell, he has a solid group of receivers to work with. Opponents should load up on the Seawolves’ running game at their own peril.

“He knows everything,” Maysonet said. “He can line up at receiver and know the routes. He could line up at running back and know everything there too. … He’s the general and he leads the troops.”

Said Priore: “He gets us into every run check and puts us in the right direction. A lot of their yards are a direct result of what Michael does from the shoulders up. He’s a 3.9 medical student, cerebral, and when you tell him once, he gets it. And he’s not a selfish person. And to run our offense, you can’t be a selfish person. There’s opportunities out there, but you can’t be selfish. He went six straight games without a turnover. And our running backs did not have a fumble at the line of scrimmage all year. Not one.”

—Stony Brook is playing two guarantee games this season, heading to UTEP and Buffalo in the season’s first two weeks. Priore said that trend will continue at least through 2014, and some of the FBS teams on the SBU future schedule include Boston College, Marshall, Cincinnati, Army and Buffalo.

—Stony Brook started 1-4 last season before winning five straight to get into position to claim the Big South’s automatic bid. The Seawolves lost at Liberty in the season finale and missed the postseason. Maysonet said there were lessons learned from the ugly start, one that culminated with an embarrassing performance in a loss at Lafayette.

“We woke up,” Maysonet said. “You could tell the games before that, we were there, we just couldn’t take that step. Once that happened, we just took off.”