Miguel Maysonet’s meteoric rise makes the Stony Brook baseball team’s run to the College World Series seem pedestrian by comparison.
From living above a garage in a tiny apartment without a shower or bathtub to becoming the favorite for the Walter Payton Award — the Football Championship Subdivision’s (FCS) equivalent to the Heisman Award — and possibly becoming Stony Brook’s first-ever NFL draft pick, Maysonet’s story seems ripped from the pages of a Hollywood script.
It’s all rooted in a simple approach he has taken — a steely focus on the immediate future; not looking back, not looking too far ahead. It’s the key to the 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior’s success, and emblematic of his bruising north-south running style that has drawn NFL scouts from 28 of the league’s 32 teams to the Long Island school.
WE’RE LOOKING AT YOU, KID: Stony Brook RB Miguel Maysonet, with mother Yolanda Santana (above), is getting interest from NFL scouts.
“I don’t think you’ll find anybody who will say anything except this kid has it going in the right direction,” Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. “He’s always taken care of his business. He has the unique characteristic to always be able to stay at the same level.
“He doesn’t have a bad day. I haven’t seen it. That’s why he hasn’t had a bad game.”
Maysonet, 22, has enjoyed a storybook three-year collegiate career, leading the Seahawks to two straight Big South titles and FCS tournament berths, and emerging as the Walter Payton Award favorite.
He is the Big South’s and Stony Brook’s all-time leading rusher with 4,332 yards and 43 touchdowns after yesterday’s 28-14 loss to Liberty. However, his late fumble on a potential game-tying drive was returned for a game-sealing touchdown by the Flames.
Maysonet was a superstar at Riverhead High School, named the top player in Suffolk County by Newsday. He only took one college visit, to Hofstra, before committing to the Pride. When the program was dropped, hordes of coaches came to Hofstra to recruit different players, but Maysonet avoided the throng in his dorm room, and committed to Stony Brook the next day, which enabled him to remain close to his family.
His mother, Yolanda Santana — whom he described as his “mom and dad” growing up — worked two jobs to support him. He played street football growing up because Pop Warner was too expensive — they had to heat water to bathe.
“It was tough, but I grew up pretty fast,” he said. “It made me appreciate things more. Every time someone gives me advice, I cherish it.”
His numbers aren’t merely reflective of playing in the FCS — he rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown in a 28-17 loss to Big East foe Syracuse and in five career games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, Maysonet averaged 129 yards per game and 6.2 yards per carry with three touchdowns.
“He’s had a great career at Stony Brook, but he will continue on playing at the next level,” predicted Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, a Bronx native who was on NFL coaching staffs with the Jets and Saints before landing in upstate New York. “He has that ability. He can jump over people, he can run through people, he can run around people.”
He is an NFL prospect because of his style more than his gaudy statistics, Priore said. Stony Brook runs a pro-style system, and Maysonet has thrived in it with his balance, vision, explosiveness and ability to gain yards after initial contact.
“[Scouts] come in here knowing he’s a good player, and they leave here surprised at how good he is,” Priore said. “Miguel’s career average is close to seven yards per carry, and that’s because he finishes every run. Where a lot of other guys end up with four yards, Miguel ends up with eight. Where a lot of other guys end up with 20, Miguel ends up with 28. Where a lot of other guys end up with 50, Miguel scored touchdowns.”
Maysonet’s bruising running style comes from his days playing pickup tackle football without pads on the blacktop. Landing hard on the pavement led to injury, so he avoided juke moves.
“I try to go straight ahead as quick as possible,” he said.
Described by teammates as an ego-less star who is funny, humble and fearless, Maysonet is a creature of habit. He doesn’t like change. He stayed on Long Island for college twice to remain close with his family and lives in the same freshman dorm with the same roommate he started out with at Stony Brook three years ago — offensive guard Michael Bamiro.
“For him,” Priore said jokingly, “it’s the Taj Mahal.”
True to his always-looking-forward running style and approach to life, Maysonet doesn’t like to rehash difficult times. His motivation is the next play and the next day, though the future is hard not to ponder. If all goes as hoped, he can make a better life for his mother and setup his family.
“That’s definitely in the back of my mind, doing something good for her,” he said. “It would mean the world, for us to be a struggling family and my mom working so hard. I’m excited to be able to give back to her if this whole NFL thing works out.”
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