Miguel Maysonet is the type of player who hands the ball to the referee after scoring rather than calling attention to himself. So, the Stony Brook running back's understated reaction Wednesday to being named one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award as player of the year in the Football Championship Subdivision came as no surprise.
"Personally, it's just an award," Maysonet said Wednesday night after practice for SBU's second-round FCS playoff game Saturday night at third-seeded Montana State (10-1).
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"If I end up winning it, then, I'll be excited because it will be a team award. But if I don't, it's not going to define who I am and the seasons I had throughout the years here at Stony Brook . To just be nominated as a finalist is a humbling feeling."
Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke and Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstein are the other two finalists for the honor, which will be announced at the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Dec. 17 in Philadelphia. Voting by a panel of media relations directors, broadcasters and writers was at the end of the regular season.
It's the people around Maysonet who are most excited for him. "It's awesome," Seawolves coach Chuck Priore said. "The award reads 'contributions to the team as well as outstanding performance.' Everybody can look at his contributions to our team and say, 'That's an MVP player.' He's averaging 7 yards a carry in a pro-style attack, not an option attack and not taking the ball every play as a quarterback. He's very worthy."
Running backs have won the award nine times in its 25-year history, but it has gone to a quarterback the past eight seasons. Maysonet, a senior, finished the regular season as the FCS rushing leader with 1,721 yards, an FCS-leading 7.7 average per carry and 21 touchdowns, which ranked third. He had eight 100-yard games, and topped the 200-yard mark three times.
Last Saturday, Maysonet rushed for 160 yards and two TDs in a first-round playoff win over Villanova, pushing his season total to 1,881 yards and his career rushing total to 5,027 yards. His 23 TDs now are tied for first, and he has 56 career TDs.
ODU's sophomore quarterback Heinicke likely poses the biggest threat to Maysonet in the voting. Heinicke led the FCS in passing yards per game (378), TD passes (35) and total offense (412.3). He set Division I records in a 64-61 win over New Hampshire with 730 passing yards and 791 yards total offense. Wofford's Breitenstein averaged 150.27 yards rushing per game and is the active FCS career leader in rushing yards (5,348) and touchdowns (62).
But the numbers that matter most to Maysonet are the ones that will be on the scoreboard Saturday night at Bobcat Stadium in Bozeman, Mont., where the Seawolves meet the seventh-ranked rushing defense in FCS. "They're a high-motor team, and they've got a lot of fast guys," Maysonet said. "I'm excited to go in there and try to do what we do best to win."
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