A year ago, the Stony Brook football team was coming off their second straight appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs. Fast forward and they find themselves watching 24 other teams compete for a national title as they ponder a lost season.
After finishing the season 5-7, 2-6 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play, the Seawolves secured their first losing season since 2016.
In the CAA preseason coaches poll, Stony Brook was projected to finish sixth. In reality, they finished 11th.
For the past few seasons, HERO Sports has been putting out previews on all the teams in the FCS as well as previews on all the conferences. Brian McLaughlin, HERO Sports’ FCS Coordinator, wrote the Stony Brook preview and some of what he said played out word for word.
“In fact, there’s a very good chance the Seawolves could emerge from non-conference play in September at 3-1 with a winnable CAA opener against Rhode Island up next,” McLaughlin said in the season preview. “That would have SB heading into the James Madison game 4-1 and turning everybody’s heads.”
The Seawolves did in fact start the season 4-1, after defeating the Rhode Island Rams in a thrilling and action-packed fourth quarter. After surrendering a large lead, Stony Brook was led to victory by a final minute 50-yard touchdown run by redshirt-junior quarterback Tyquell Fields.
Fields’ touchdown run earned him a spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter. While everyone talked about the TD run, no one mentioned the elephant in the room: Sam Kamara, one of the team’s three captains, a senior defensive lineman, recorded three sacks in the victory over the Rams. But when getting up from the field following his third sack that sealed the victory, he tore something in his shoulder, rendering him out for the season.
Stony Brook hosted No. 2 ranked James Madison at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Oct. 5 for Homecoming. Stony Brook fell to the Dukes, 45-38 in OT, but the game would not have even made it to overtime if not for redshirt-senior kicker Nick Courtney hitting a 47-yard field goal with 0:05 left in the fourth quarter.
Despite snapping their 12-game home win streak, the Seawolves rose in the rankings to No. 22.
That would be their highest ranking of the season.
Courtney once again came to Stony Brook’s rescue, drilling a 22-yard field goal against Villanova, as time expired. The field goal capped an 18-point second half comeback for the Seawolves, giving them their second ever victory over a top-five nationally ranked team.
Following the victory over Villanova on Oct. 26, Stony Brook found themselves 5-3, 2-2.
They would not win another game.
The following three games, losses at Richmond, home versus No. 21 Towson and at Delaware, were all duds for the Seawolves. Stony Brook managed to score 34 total points, compared to the 78 points they gave up.
Redshirt-senior wide receiver Nick Anderson had a career night in the loss to Towson. Anderson pulled in eight catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns, with the 205 yards being the most receiving yards by a Stony Brook player since 2012, when Kevin Norrell pulled down 214 yards against Charleston Southern on Oct. 6. It was also only the fifth time in program history that a player had a 200-plus yard receiving game.
Coming into their final home game, the Seawolves were 5-6, 2-5 but had a chance to save face and finish .500. “The Battle for the Golden Apple” victory over Albany would help ease the pain of a down season. Stony Brook quickly found themselves down 24-0 less than three minutes into the second quarter. While the Seawolves would go on to lose 31-26, don’t let the final score fool you. Stony Brook needed a big fourth quarter, and a touchdown with 0:04 left on the clock would just bring them within five. It was a disaster.
While the Seawolves did not succeed in the manner in which they wanted on the field, they managed to have some success off the field.
Back in May, head coach Chuck Priore announced the additions of five transfers, with two more switching in as the summer progressed. The seven had varying levels of impact on the field, but three stood out the most.
Jean Constant, a graduate transfer wide receiver from Bryant University, came into Stony Brook as a multiple season All-American returner and quickly made his presence known. Through the first seven games of the season, Constant had managed to pull in five touchdowns. But an injury in the victory at Villanova, would leave Constant on the sideline until the final game of the season.
Sean Hammonds Jr., came in from Ball State University as a graduate transfer. At Ball State, Hammonds Jr. was a successful defensive lineman, and he brought that success to Stony Brook. He finished this past season season tied with Kamara for second on the team in sacks with three while forcing a fumble, recovering two more and breaking up five passes.
Despite missing three games due to injury, Keirston Johnson helped improve the linebacker corps. Johnson, who transferred in from the University of South Florida (USF) as a junior, finished his first season on Long Island with 39 total tackles.
Stony Brook also brought in players from Air Force, Southern Methodist University (SMU), University of Connecticut and University of Texas at San Antonio. The Seawolves were one of numerous CAA programs that benefited from transfer players, and need to continue to be a major destination for players looking to transfer.
With the need to become a place that transfers want to play for, Stony Brook will have to face the grueling reality: players might want to transfer out of the program. On Nov. 27, redshirt-freshman wide receiver JP Roane tweeted out a long message, which stated his intention to enter the transfer portal. A week later, on Dec. 4, redshirt-freshman running back Alex Indelicato tweeted his decision to enter the transfer portal as well. Each is looking to leave for different reasons; Roane butted heads with the coaching staff and is looking for a fresh start, while the reasons for Indelicato’s departure are unknown.
With the early national signing period drawing closer, Stony Brook currently has seven players committed to their class of 2020, with at least 24 other players publicly acknowledging they hold offers. On that note, at least 11 players who had previously announced publicly they held offers from Stony Brook, have decided to go elsewhere.
While the seven players have committed to the program, they are not official yet since none of them signed their National Letters of Intent. The Seawolves still need to pick up their recruiting efforts, as every FCS team has been picking up commitments, and the CAA is once again bringing in top talent. James Madison and Richmond had already picked at least eight commitments as of September, with Richmond having 11.
Chuck Priore has been the Stony Brook head coach since Spring 2006, and during his time has led the team to four FCS playoff appearances and at least a share of four Big South conference championships, while helping the team transition to the CAA in 2013. But the Seawolves have never gone past the second round of the playoffs.
Since 2006, five different CAA teams have appeared in the FCS Championship game. Of those five, three different teams have brought home the title, most recently JMU winning it all in 2016.
The 2019 season may have been a rebuilding year or a bad sign of things to come. Stony Brook will have to decide soon whether they want to continue on the course to nowhere with their current regime, or part ways with Priore, while eight other FCS teams are currently searching for a new head coach.
Winter is coming to Stony Brook, and it may be a harsh one.