Seawolves fans may recognize Kyle Nuñez as the key cog in the offensive line, but his story goes much deeper than just his Stony Brook career. His life revolves around three F’s: faith, family and football.
Nuñez was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., and his family moved to Long Island when he was a young child. He was raised in East Islip, N.Y., and played varsity football at East Islip High School.
He comes from a football family, with an older brother who played football before him and a father who coached him until he got to high school.
While in high school, Nuñez played both offensive guard and defensive tackle, helping lead his team to the playoffs multiple times. He won several honors, being selected to the All-County, All-Long Island and All-State teams as both a junior and senior. Nuñez attributes his high school career to the success he has had in college.
“It really propelled me from going from the high school level to the college level,” Nuñez said in an interview with The Statesman. “It’s been a blessing to be able to say that I’m from East Islip.”
Nuñez’s grandmother left a lasting impact on his football career. She only watched him play once, at the Suffolk County High School Football Championship game during his freshman year. The game was played on Stony Brook University’s football field at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
“Unfortunately, that was the last time she ever saw me play,” Nuñez said. “I got my first scholarship on her birthday, and it wasn’t a coincidence. I am a big faith guy. I knew that if I got an offer from Stony Brook, that was where I was supposed to be. I play for her every time I’m here.”
Nuñez has had quite the career at Stony Brook, from being a four-time All-CAA selection to being named a team captain. He has become one of the best offensive linemen in program history, and he still has one year left with the Seawolves.
“I loved what I’ve built here with some of my best friends in the world,” Nuñez said. “I’m blessed to have another year and we are going to bring it to new heights that we never knew we could.”
Nuñez redshirted as a freshman in 2017, which he says helped him foster a successful run in his later years at Stony Brook. Rather than focusing on playing time, he was able to acclimate to college football. Nuñez said he focused more on waking up early, time management, going to meetings and proving his dedication to the team.
“It really sets you up for success later in your years,” Nuñez said.
Nuñez has been there every step of the way for Stony Brook, not missing a single game from 2018 through 2021. He became a regular starter at right guard halfway through the 2018 season, where he developed into the All-Conference player he is today. Though, in his final year, Nuñez is less concerned with his accolades and more focused on winning with his teammates.
“It’s been an awesome ride. I would trade every single one of those accolades for a ring with my friends,” Nuñez said. “Gracefully, I got another shot to do that for this program, for this community. I’m going to get a ring with these guys.”
One of Nuñez’s inspirations is former NFL wide receiver Hines Ward. Ward played his whole 14-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers — Nuñez’s favorite team.
“Hines Ward has been my favorite player since I was little,” Nuñez said. “Watching him play with a smile on his face every time he hit the field was something that I loved and was I like, wow, I want to be that happy playing football.”
He truly is that happy; Nuñez’s positivity has helped improve his leadership. According to teammate Ty Son Lawton, his leadership skills are very strong.
“He’s one of the best leaders on our team, he leads the whole group by example,” Lawton said. “He really takes care of the team.”
Nuñez has been instrumental in making Lawton the player he is today. The star running back led the CAA in rushing yards last year as Nuñez paved the way for him. He spoke very highly of his team captain.
“I would trust Kyle with my life,” Lawton said.
Coach Chuck Priore is entering his 17th season as head coach of Stony Brook’s football team. Over the past six years, Priore has watched Nuñez grow as a player and as a leader. Priore was complementary to his leadership as a two-time team captain.
“Obviously, he’s had some success from All-League, All-American things, but I think he’s a hard worker, and he does things the right way, which sets the tone for everybody,” Priore said. “Like most offensive linemen, you don’t get the credit, so when these things happen, it’s pretty cool.”
Entering his farewell tour as a captain, an All-American and an All-Conference player, Nuñez is bringing his all this season.
“When you stay stagnant and you’re appreciative of wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, a lot of people have it worse than you,” Nuñez said. “It’s our job as leaders that we don’t lose sight of that.”