Stony Brook's football team is looking for a new front man.
The Seawolves had a go-to guy for quite some time in quarterback Joe Carbone. He earned serious playing time as a freshman and started the past three seasons, leading Stony Brook to the FCS playoffs the past two years. His impending graduation means someone new will be under center and Saturday’s spring football game offered something of a glance at the top two candidates.
Tyquell Fields might be considered the front-runner. The mobile 6-2 junior-to-be with the strong arm played in eight games last season, was 17-for-35 passing and connected on two touchdowns. Jack Cassidy, a 6-1 junior-to-be out of Connetquot High, also is a serious contender to start. He might be the more accurate passer of the two.
“We’re leaving this as ‘open’ until we get to the preseason,” Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. “[Carbone] was a very good leader. He understood the offense and learned how to play within what we do. He had a lot of game experience. These guys have played only a little.
“Both Tyquell and Jack are developing [and] it’s a process. They’ve both had plenty of practice time but now they are getting on the field and running the show and that’s different.”
Fields got more reps in the spring game and was 8-for-20 passing for 79 yards and rushed for 16. Cassidy was 7-for-11 passing for 100 yards and a touchdown. Fields was intercepted twice and Cassidy once.
The Seawolves averaged nearly 27 points last season and Carbone threw for 15 touchdowns, so there are, as Cassidy said “some really big shoes to fill.” He added, “I know it’s a lot of responsibility and I am ready to take it on if I earn the job.”
“I want it very badly,” said Fields, who redshirted his first year. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time — three years now — sitting behind Joe. I have been patient and now it’s time to go.”
The quarterback spot is only the headliner in a world of change coming to the offense. Departing featured backs Donald Liotine and Jordan Gowins were 89 percent of the rushing offense and the players who caught 75 percent of the passes also graduate.
“We graduated, in the last two years, every rushing touchdown we scored and all but two passing touchdowns,” Priore said. “The guys who will fill those spots will be developing.”
Isaiah White, who will be a senior captain, is in the mix at running back with redshirt freshman Ty Son Lawton and redshirt sophomore Seba Nekhet. In Saturday's game, White carried eight times for 42 yards, Lawton had 53 yards on 10 rushes and Nekhet had 53 yards on 18 runs.
“Tyquell and Jack are playing well and I see a lot of other players who are stepping up now that they have the chance,” said senior center Joe Detorie, one of three returning offensive linemen. “We will need the time there is until the season starts, but we could be able to pick up where we left off.”
The picture on defense is much clearer with eight players back, though SBU will have new middle linebackers. Defensive backs Gavin Heslop and Augie Contressa lead a secondary where everyone returns.
“Our unit is more experienced and the game is slowing down for us to where we can make more plays,” Heslop said. “Our unit is excited about this season.”