STONY BROOK — All things considered, Miguel Maysonet’s transition from the defunct Hofstra University football team to the one at Stony Brook University has been as smooth as his running style. Maysonet smiles at the suggestion that it has been easy because he knows full well that it hasn’t been, but the sophomore running back has a knack for making things look easy, particularly on the football field.
Maysonet was the Carl A. Hansen Award winner (an honor given to the top high school player in Suffolk County) in his senior year at Riverhead High School before moving on to play for Hofstra last year. Not that he realized it at the time, but Maysonet started the final six games in Hofstra’s football history. He was in class one day last December when a friend delivered the stunning news that Hofstra had dropped its 72-year-old football program. The decision was said to be based on costs and waning fan interest.
“I was shocked,” said Maysonet.
Nonetheless, Maysonet was not prepared to give up football. He said he didn’t wait longer than a day to decide on making the move to Stony Brook, which had recruited him when he was in high school.
Hofstra’s loss has been Stony Brook’s gain. The pairing has been good for both Maysonet and the Seawolves. Maysonet is enjoying a fine season with the Seawolves, rushing for 1,118 yards at an average of 6.7 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns. He has also caught eight passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
“I’m having a great time,” Maysonet said after a practice last week. “I’m doing good. I’m doing whatever helps the team out.”
Stony Brook Coach Chuck Priore said he knew the type of player he was getting when Maysonet arrived on campus, but he has also learned something about Maysonet as a person.
“The quality of person he is is outstanding,” Priore said. “He’s got some natural talent that God gave him, but he also works hard at it. … He comes every day with a smile on his face, ready to play football.”
Maysonet, who wears No. 5 on his uniform, makes for a potent one-two punch in the Stony Brook backfield along with Brock Jackolski, another one of the five transfers from Hofstra.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s any kind of rivalry for playing time because they know that they’re going to get on the field,” said Adam Gutes, Stony Brook’s athletic communications assistant.
Maysonet ran for 88 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown, his team-leading 12th, on Saturday when Stony Brook (6-4, 5-0 Big South Conference) routed Gardner-Webb (3-7, 1-4), 55-3, before more than 3,500 fans on Senior Day in the Seawolves’ final home regular-season game.
Stony Brook has clinched at least a share of the Big South championship and can clinch the league’s automatic postseason bid with a victory at Liberty to finish as outright Big South champions or a loss at Liberty coupled with a Coastal Carolina victory over Charleston Southern to tie as co-champions.
Jackolski was named the conference’s special teams player of the week for scoring three touchdowns from a 94-yard kickoff return, six-yard pass and 19-yard run. He became the first player in Big South history to score a kickoff return touchdown, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the same game.
With Jackolski running for 131 yards, he has 1,027 rushing yards at an average of 7.2 per game and nine rushing touchdowns. Both he and Maysonet became the first duo from one team this season to surpass 1,000 yards rushing in the Football Championship Subdivision or Football Bowl Subdivision. The pair are a big reason why Stony Brook leads the Big South in rushing offense at an average of 234.9 yards per game. They are the top two rushing leaders in the conference in yardage, yards per rush, yards per game and rushing touchdowns.
Stony Brook’s running game would be even more formidable if junior running back Eddie Gowins, a former Bellport High School star, had not injured a groin. He is out for the season.
“My God, what it would be like if we had those three,” said Gutes.
Jackolski, a deceptive runner in his own right who played for the William Floyd Colonials, has been impressed with what he has seen from Maysonet this season.
“He’s a beast,” Jackolski said. “He gets better every day. The yards keep going up and up. The touchdowns keep going up and up. The sky’s the limit.”
Maysonet said the Riverhead Blue Waves prepared him for the collegiate level. In addition, the playing time he got last year at Hofstra, a big rival of Stony Brook’s, put him in a good situation going into his sophomore season. In his one season at Hofstra, Maysonet gathered 422 yards and three touchdowns from 78 carries.
Maysonet has found that the big difference between the high school and college games is the speed of play. Other than that, he said, he is still looking for holes to run through and following his blockers. “It’s basically the same thing,” he said. “Football is football. You got to run to where the holes are. You got to score touchdowns to win. That’s what it comes down to.”
Then, of course is the film study and meetings. Maysonet said he has learned to become a student of the game. All of this must be balanced with his school work. “When I’m not playing football, I’m doing school work, so it’s like I got a job every day, all day,” he said.
Balance is a big part of Maysonet’s game, too.
“He’s got great lower-body balance, and he’s got speed to run away from people,” Priore said, “but it’s his balance, and he’s always keeping his lower body moving.”
That constant movement enables the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Maysonet to extend plays and gain extra yardage, sometimes to the surprise of himself and others.
“He surprises us every game with the moves he has and the way he stays off the ground,” Jackolski said. “He’ll roll over somebody’s back and get up and keep running down the field. He’s just full of surprises.”
Maysonet said he is happy to still be playing football and happy to be at Stony Brook. Looking up at the new video screen at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, he said, “It’s amazing seeing yourself on the big screen and it’s just amazing looking at the stands and seeing everybody here coming out to support Stony Brook.”