Philadelphia, PA – As the Walter Payton Award candidacy grew for Stony Brook's Miguel Maysonet last year, Marcus Coker did what he thought he was supposed to do as a fellow running back.
Coker tried to remain in a secondary role out of respect to Maysonet.
It wasn't quite what Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore had in mind for the new transfer from the University of Iowa, so he pulled Coker aside and challenged him a bit.
"I said, 'Respect yourself,'" Priore told Coker.
It's true Maysonet finished the season as the runner-up for the FCS' outstanding player award, but the Seawolves needed Coker as well in their first 10-win season. He rushed for 1,018 yards and nine touchdowns on 210 carries, going over 100 yards in three of their final five games.
Maysonet is gone from what was a unique running back rotation, but Stony Brook's "other" 1,000-yard rusher is back. As the Seawolves take a jump in conferences from the Big South to CAA Football, Priore says he expects Coker to carry the ball 25-30 times per game.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound cruncher should have a huge season, too. He understands how to extend plays and deflate defenses with his physical running style, as his 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore at Iowa in 2011 would attest.
An NFL prospect for 2014, Coker arrived at Stony Brook following his dismissal from the Big Ten school in early 2012. He was investigated for an alleged assault, but not charged. He believes he's learned from his mistakes and has been more of a leader for his FCS team.
In Five-a-Side - In the FCS Huddle's monthly feature of "five questions, five answers" with an influential person in the FCS - Coker discusses the season ahead for Stony Brook football.
Let's kick off:
TSN: Obviously, you were on a higher level of competition at Iowa. Now a lot of your teammates are stepping up to a higher level in the CAA. What does a program have to do at a higher level?
MC: We're definitely excited. Some new challenges, some great teams, one of the better conferences in the NCAA.
They just have to raise their intensity. Everybody on our team has to raise their play level, which our guys are ready to do.
TSN: You had a big season last year with over 1,000 yards rushing. But this team also relied on Miguel in a big way. What do you have to do to fill that void?
MC: It's going to be big shoes to fill, but I think we can get it done. We're going to have to do it.
TSN: How are you and Miguel similar and different with running style?
MC: We're probably completely different in almost every facet. He's short ... short ... really short (he smiles). No, he's a speedy guy with agility, he jumps over people. I'm just lower my shoulder, (with) jukes every once in a while but very rarely so.
TSN: How about your time at Iowa. When you look back on it, is there anything you would change, and how has that impacted you now?
MC: I wouldn't change anything. Everything in my past makes me who I am today. Looking back, it was a fun experience. The coaches, they were great to me.
TSN: Will Stony Brook have another Walter Payton Award finalist this year?
MC: That's the goal. Always.