Stony Brook University quarterback Kyle Essington had most of fall camp to prepare for his starting role. It comes Saturday night when the Seawolves (1-3) host Presbyterian (1-3) in the first Big South Conference game for both teams.
With starter Michael Coulter trying to play through a torn ACL in his left knee, the 6-2, 185-pound Essington played in parts of the first four games.
"I was mentally preparing to lead this team,'' Essington said.
He may not have the experience of Coulter, but the junior will give the offense a new dimension: a mobile quarterback who will add to an already strong running game. He has rushed for two touchdowns and thrown for another.
"As far as personal strengths, I like to run the ball a lot, make plays happen with my feet,'' he said. "If the pocket happens to break down, I'd like to think that I can scramble, make something happen.''
The team is rallying around Essington. "Losing Coulter is going to be a big hit,'' said running back Miguel Maysonet, who has rushed for 542 yards and five touchdowns. "But Kyle is the right man to fill his shoes.''
Coach Chuck Priore feared that Coulter would not make it through the season, so he had Essington get ready early. "Kyle basically took 85 percent of the snaps from Aug. 8 until the UTEP game,'' Priore said of the Sept. 3 season opener in El Paso. "He has not played a whole game, has not had adversity in his face, but it's not like he just got here. We're happy that we have somebody else to put in the game that's been in the game.''
Stony Brook tied for the Big South title the previous two seasons but is trying for its first postseason berth. "We'd like to show the rest of the conference that we're here; we have a strong desire to get that conference championship,'' Essington said. "We don't want to share it this year.''
Essington comes from California and learned the quarterback position from his father, Randy, who played at Colorado and was the last selection in the 1984 NFL draft by the then-Los Angeles Raiders. That earned him the moniker Mr. Irrelevant, but he was super-relevant to his son. "My dad's been my biggest role model,'' he said. "I've lived for football since a very young age. He really showed me the ropes. I certainly could not be more proud than to have had a dad who got drafted into the NFL.''