|« Pomp, pageantry and a meaningful game||Tenn Tech reeling after no-call aids TSU to late victory »|
Stony Brook QB flourishes in East, South
Brea Olinda’s Kyle Essington is having a big year quarterbacking Stony Brook, at least when epic storms don’t come to visit.
Five college football players in a house with no electricity for most of a week.
If that doesn’t make you anticipate Saturday, nothing can.
Kyle Essington will be freed from the mold today.
He is the quarterback at Stony Brook, on the north shore of Long Island, where an eponymous storm named Sandy caused evacuation and exasperation throughout.
But then Saturdays are special already.
Stony Brook is 8-1 and leading the Big South Conference, part of what used to be known as Division I-AA.
Essington, who quarterbacked Brea Olinda and Fullerton College, leads the FCS in passing efficiency this season, with 19 touchdowns, four interceptions and an impressive 10.99 yards per attempt.
“This has been a great place for me,” Essington said Wednesday. “The offense is very balanced, the competition is good and I think I’ve developed as a quarterback.”
This is Essington’s final regular-season home game, as Virginia Military comes to town.
Five times, his team has scored 40 or more points, and in October it crushed Army, 23-3.
Two weeks before that, the Seawolves went to Syracuse and led 17-14 but lost 28-17, and Essington was only 4 of 19 that day.
“That’s one I’d like to have back,” he said. “We all thought we should have won.”
By now, three questions should have arisen.
What’s a guy from Chino Hills doing in Long Island?
What’s Stony Brook doing in the Big South?
And what’s this caveat about “final regular-season” home game?
Well, Essington thought he was going to UC Davis in 2008.
“That was the perfect spot academically and athletically,” said Randy Essington, Kyle’s dad.
“But, right before opening day, they said they didn’t have enough scholarship money left for quarterbacks,” Kyle said, “and they were going to go with some defensive players. They still wanted me to come as a walk-on. At that point I didn’t really want to.”
It was too late to gather game tape to impress recruiters, so he went to Mt. San Antonio College.
After he “gray-shirted” there, he got a call from Jeff Fleming, who was Essintgton’s predecessor at Brea Olinda and was at Fullerton College, en route to Sacramento State.
“He said I should follow his footsteps,” Essington said. “They had great coaches there, and he was right.”
After one year for the Hornets, Essington got interest from North Dakota State.
But Stony Brook won him over with the recruiting approach of offensive coordinator Jeff Behrman, and a look at the roster.
“They had a bunch of Southern California guys,” Essington said. “I thought that was pretty cool.”
They still do. Orange Lutheran’s Devonte Anderson, Edison’s Bruce Brantley and San Clemente’s Steven Watts are all Seawolves, and Essington’s lead receiver is Kevin Norvell, from Long Beach Poly.
You see that phenomenon throughout FCS schools in the East and with quarterbacks in particular. There aren’t enough four-year schools in the West to accommodate California’s backlog of football talent.
As for the Big South affiliation, that will end in 2013 when Stony Brook joins the Colonial Athletic Association, to few protests.
Stony Brook is on the way to winning the league for the fourth successive time, even though its road league games are below the Mason-Dixon Line, in places like Conway, S.C. and Boiling Springs, N.C.
“It’s good Southern food and pretty good competition,” Essington said.
And the regular-season disclaimer?
In the FCS they hold a 16-team playoff for a real national champion. They’ve done so for years. The rivers don’t run backward and the mountains don’t crumble.
Stony Brook got to the second round last year, losing to Sam Houston State.
“I don’t see why they shouldn’t have a playoff like that in the higher divisions,” Kyle said. “It’s a great experience. Sure, it’s a lot of games for the two teams that go all the way, but you’re actually playing for something.”
Randy Essington might have brushed your consciousness in 1984, when he was picked dead last in the NFL draft, and thus was named Mr. Irrelevant.
He played quarterback at Colorado but missed his senior year with von Willebrand Disease, a form of hemophilia. He considered taking legal action to be allowed to play, but found a drug called DDAVP that remedied the condition, and went to camp with the Raiders.
He didn’t make it, but developed a friendship with offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, who now counsels his son.
He also doesn’t wish to elaborate on his past.
“It’s all about Kyle now,” Randy said. “We’ve been working on his mechanics for years now, and he’s in a real good place. He’s a 4.0 student, he’s having a great year, and I really think if they’d won that Sam Houston game, they would have won the whole thing. And I think they can do that this year.”
Not all climate change is damaging.
By MARK WHICKER, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER