Tuesday, November 29, 2011
JeVahn Cruz waits his turn to star for Stony Brook (Newsday)
A quartet of Hansen Award winners have played for Stony Brook University's football team. Running backs Eddie Gowins, Brock Jackolski and Miguel Maysonet have made their mark for the Seawolves. JeVahn Cruz is next in line. The redshirt freshman from Half Hollow Hills West just has to wait his turn.
Cruz never expected the Hansen, awarded to the top high school player in Suffolk, to propel him ahead of Jackolski or Maysonet, the two feature backs remaining from the Hansen collection.
"You have to adjust,'' the 5-6, 160-pound Cruz said. "You just stay positive and know your time will come.''
Cruz is looking forward to Saturday's game with Sam Houston in the second round of the FCS playoffs. He is in the you-never-know position, meaning his number could be called at any time. "I try to do the same thing every single week in practice,'' he said. "I try to bring energy to practice, make sure it's a good week of practice so when we get down to Texas there's no doubts or anything. One thing I pride myself on is knowing the system. I know I'm going to have to one day play a big role in the system.''
Cruz has made strides in his understudy role. He has rushed for 334 yards and four touchdowns -- not bad for the third back on the depth chart -- and has been valuable on special teams. Against Liberty, Cruz's tackle on a kickoff thwarted a potential return for a touchdown.
"He's been able to play on two or three special teams for us,'' coach Chuck Priore said. "I think his ability to learn has been very good.''
As a senior in high school, Cruz was a one-man offense. He threw for 1,531 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,789 yards and 24 more TDs.
Jackolski is a senior, Maysonet a junior. Priore is always recruiting talented players, but Cruz should have a significant role next season. "He's certainly the lead person to replace what we normally do, a two-back rotation,'' Priore said. "We certainly feel he can handle that situation. I think his overall development in the weight room will be crucial to his success. He said to me after the Liberty game, 'Coach, I'm going to be 15 pounds heavier next year so I can punish people.' That's something his body needs to do.''
Cruz is patient. "Just trying to get better and better and waiting until my time comes in the game,'' he said. "Miguel and Brock are over me right now, I respect that. I just sit back, watch what they do, see how they lead the team and hope I can do that in the years to come.''