There are very few players in the country finishing up their sixth college football training camp, but then again, there aren’t many players like Stony Brook’s Stacey Bedell.
Bedell, a 5-9, 195-pound running back from Mastic Beach, has had a long journey since running for a Long Island Championship record 412 yards for Floyd High School in the 2011 Class I title victory over East Meadow.
Playing as a true freshman at UMass in 2012, Bedell broke his collarbone two games into the season. In 2015, after opening the season with 351 yards on 50 carries and four touchdowns, Bedell suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the third game. He’s had two medical redshirts, but that never diminished his will to compete.
“I always think of an injury as a minor setback for a major comeback so I don’t let an injury get me too down,” said Bedell, entering his senior season as Stony Brook’s starting running back. “I just think I have to work harder and I have to fix that. In the offseason, I just have to get stronger. It’s definitely a motivation for me. I have to push harder because it takes one little error and it could all be over.”
Whenever Bedell is playing on Long Island, the record book needs to be on high alert. When he set the Long Island championship game rushing record in his final high school football game — coincidently at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium — he also moved to seventh place in Long Island history for rushing yards (5,059), according to Newsday.com. He currently ranks eighth in career rushing yards and his 2,532 yards as a senior — the year he was a co-winner of the Newsday Hansen Award as the top player in Suffolk County — is the fifth most for a season.
“I don’t really think about it as much anymore . . . but it’s definitely pretty cool,” Bedell said. “I come back and I watch some of the LIC games, and to see the talent around, I wonder one day if it will be broke.”
At Stony Brook, Bedell ranks second in program history with 12 100-yard rushing games, third in touchdowns (23) and fifth in yards per game (88.3).
“He’s someone that I know I can depend on,” wide receiver Ray Bolden said. “And as a player, you cut the film on him and it speaks for itself, so Stacey’s a special kid.”
After rushing for 1,070 yards and nine touchdowns in his first season at Stony Brook in 2014, Bedell was ecstatic for the 2015 campaign. He said he felt at the “top of his potential” until his second season-ending injury. But after getting the medical redshirt, he was able to return for two more seasons, including last year when he ran for 698 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, with 10 touchdowns.
“I talked to a lot of people, especially my parents and my dad and he told me, it’s all God’s plan,” he said. “And now I’m here this year.”
And the coaching staff is thankful to have him — running backs coach Omar King compared Bedell to another coach on staff.
“When he’s been healthy, he’s been a leader of this team,” coach Chuck Priore said. “He’s scored a lot of touchdowns so obviously if he can stay healthy, I think it will be a good one.”
But Bedell isn’t setting any personal goals aside. He wants to perform in front of friends and family — a major reason he said he transferred from UMass. And wants to end his college career just like in high school — with a championship.
“It’s been a crazy journey,” he said. “It’s had its ups and downs but I definitely love the experience of playing college football. I wouldn’t trade it for any other way. It’s going to be bittersweet when it’s my last game because I’m just going to look back and it’s been a crazy ride.”