Bryan Collins, LIU Post football head coach, oversees the team's...

Bryan Collins, LIU Post football head coach, oversees the team's first practice as a Division I squad at the college's Brookville campus in 2019. Credit: James Escher

Hearts are still heavy around the Stony Brook football program two and a half weeks after the sudden death of defensive coordinator and Long Island gridiron icon Bryan Collins. Still there is a season dawning for the Seawolves and a chance to keep him in mind at every practice and game.

And Tuesday’s Coastal Athletic Association media day may have brought further motivation as Stony Brook, 2-9 last season, was picked 14th of 15 in a preseason poll of conference coaches. Their preseason all-conference team included Seawolves linebacker Aidan Kaler as an honorable mention pick. New Hampshire running back Dylan Laube, a Westhampton High product, was named all-conference.

Stony Brook will pay tribute to Collins, who died July 7 from a cardiac event at age 58, at its Aug. 31 season opener against Delaware at LaValle Stadium. Before joining the staff of Seawolves coach Chuck Priore in 2021, Collins was coach for 23 seasons at LIU Post, where he won eight conference championships, earned six NCAA Tournament berths and was named the Northeast-10’s top coach seven times.

“Bryan was just a great person first and foremost and he certainly helped us get better,” Priore said. “We miss him and we will honor him . . . at our opening game, as we should.”

“Coach Collins was just a guy that . . . was a great person and really cared about us and made an effort to bond with his players on a personal level and really gave back to us,” said defensive lineman Taylor Bolesta, who played for Collins five seasons at Post and SBU. “He's going to be missed a great deal. All that we can really do is take his beliefs and continue to work toward what he wanted going into the season.”

“He (was) definitely loved and respected by everybody,” receiver RJ Lamarre added. “He didn't play games — he was always about the work. I feel like that's something that's going to live on . . . It's still going to be here.”

Priore, who is three wins short of 100 with the Seawolves, announced that 6-6 Buffalo transfer Casey Case will begin the season as the starting quarterback. He played in only one game during three seasons (including a redshirt year) at Buffalo but threw for 41 touchdowns in his last two seasons at Winter Park (Fla.) High.

The Seawolves added 20 players in the offseason through the transfer portal, including 16 from FBS programs, many who were dissatisfied with their roles.

“Throughout my career we have been involved in the transfer process and it’s been something that’s been very good to us . . . I do believe they come in with an edge,” Priore said. “Still they start the same as everyone . . . They’ll earn their opportunities. Casey did not take the first reps originally (and) the trend with (transfers) is they see an opportunity . . . and they were excited about joining our culture.”

SBU’s new punter will be Maryland grad transfer Anthony Pecorella, a 2018 Newsday All-Long Island selection from Chaminade, who averaged 42.1 yards per punt with the Terrapins. Priore called him a player who “can change our field position.”

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