Instead of a coming-out party for transfer running back Marcus Coker, Stony Brook's spring football game turned into a safety-first exercise. Coach Chuck Priore chose to keep Coker and backfield partner Miguel Maysonet in parkas rather than pads Sunday on a rainy afternoon at LaValle Stadium.
Wide receiver Adrian Coxson, the Seawolves' other high-profile transfer from Maryland, played but caught only one pass for 19 yards. So the real unveiling of a football team with a chance to contend for the Football Championship Subdivision national title must wait for the season opener against Central Connecticut State on Sept. 1 at home.
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In fact, Priore even cut the spring game short, calling a halt with 1:09 left in the third quarter and the defense holding a 39-13 lead over the offense based on a scoring system that rewarded points for stops and turnovers. The only touchdowns came on a 76-yard run by third-string tailback Davon Lawrence and a 7-yard pass from Kyle Essington to Kevin Norrell.
Asked why he called an early halt, Priore smiled and said, "It's wet, and I was cold.'' But he rated it an "A-plus'' because there were no injuries.
Fear of injury was why Priore held out Coker, who was the second-leading rusher in the Big Ten last season at Iowa with 1,384 yards, and Maysonet, who led the Big South with 1,633 yards rushing in 13 games, including two playoff contests.
Priore saw enough of Coker during contact sessions in spring practice to know he has a special player.
"They were involved in plenty of contact, and I saw what I expected to see -- a good football player,'' Priore said. "He understands the game; he's a physical runner, good vision. Him and Miguel are very talented players.''
Defense dominated, and rain inhibited the passing game. Lawrence had 92 yards rushing on 10 carries, but 76 came on one play. Running back JeVahn Cruz, who averaged 11 yards per carry in limited action last season, was held to 31 yards on 11 carries. Essington had a good day, completing 10 of 16 passes for 174 yards, including a 55-yarder to Jordan Gush and the touchdown to Norrell.
Essington said Coxson made progress learning the offense and that the backfield combination of Coker and Maysonet will set up the play-action passing game. "With the addition of Coker, I think we're going to have a strong running game as always and our passing game will fit in nicely,'' Essington said. "I think we'll have a really successful year throwing the ball.''
Describing the players' reaction to Coker and Coxson, Essington said, "Everyone was really excited at first. We're really happy to have Coker and Coxson join our team. They've fit into the program really well.''