Jaden AlfanoStJohn wanted to be part of something new.
When the winner of the 2019 Hansen Award — presented to Suffolk’s best football player — was contemplating where he wanted to play football in college, he had some options. The Westhampton running back and defensive back said he considered schools such as Stony Brook, New Hampshire and Delaware but wanted to join a program at which he could leave a lasting legacy. He decided on LIU, which will be entering its second season as an FCS team, and officially signed a letter of intent on Wednesday.
“I wanted to be a part of something great and I wanted to help build a new program,” AlfanoStJohn said. “Not just joining an already established program. I was just excited to put my name in their success and work toward building the program.”
LIU was a strong Division II program before making the leap to FCS. AlfanoStJohn, who rushed for 1,570 yards on 224 carries with 25 touchdowns and set a school record with eight interceptions in his senior season for Westhampton, said he quickly believed LIU was the perfect fit.
“I just thought right when I got there on recruiting day that it felt like home and I felt really comfortable there,” he
said. “It’s a new program to Division I, so I was excited to be a part of that. I enjoyed the recruitment process and I didn’t want it to be over, but I really felt like LIU was the right decision.”
It also didn’t hurt that AlfanoStJohn felt some familiarity at LIU. His former Westhampton teammate, 2018 Hansen Award winner Liam McIntyre, just finished his freshman season with the Sharks and was named to the HERO Sports Freshman All-America team as a linebacker. Although LIU went 0-10, AlfanoStJohn said McIntyre told him he believes the team is set up for a strong future. “We are good friends, so he can show me the ropes,” AlfanoStJohn said. “I was just excited to join up and play together again because we did great things in high school.”
AlfanoStJohn will be joined in the school’s freshman class by Smithtown East quarterback Kevin Melore and Farmingdale’s Kevin Wilson. The running back /linebacker was named to the All-Long Island first team.
“There’s a ton of talent on Long Island,” AlfanoStJohn said. “It’s super-underrated, so people don’t get the exposure that other places get like Virginia and Florida. But Long Island has Division I programs and it’s just an awesome opportunity to play here.”