This is the third installment in a series of stories that will follow former Stony Brook star Miguel Maysonet on his road to the NFL draft.
After sitting out most of last month's NFL scouting combine with a cranky hamstring, Miguel Maysonet approached his pro day Friday with a "time to show 'em" attitude. His confidence was buoyed by a shout-out on national TV.
Maysonet was mentioned Monday in an ESPN segment in which analysts Mel Kiper and Todd McShay named him their favorite under-the-radar running back in next month's NFL draft. Maysonet had no idea until his phone started to blow up as he sat in his car in a school parking lot.
He received simultaneous texts from teammates Scott Hernandez and Michael Bamiro. Hernandez sent video to Maysonet's phone, and he watched in the car, smiling, as other texts and Facebook messages poured in. For a small-school phenom, hoping to become the first draft pick in Stony Brook history, it was a sweet moment.
"I was like, 'ESPN? Really?'" he said. "I finally got to see it myself and I was like, 'Wow.' That was awesome. It was great."
Maysonet earned the recognition with a terrific career, including 1,964 rushing yards last season, but he still faced the eyeball test. That came Friday, when scouts from 25 teams -- including the New York Giants and Jets -- showed up to watch him and 14 others perform a series of speed, strength and agility drills.
The consensus among scouts: Maysonet didn't help or hurt his draft stock. His results were generally regarded as pedestrian, including a 40-yard dash of 4.59 seconds, according to scouts from two different teams.
"Did he help himself? Not really, but his story is on [game] tape," one scout said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "That's how he should be graded."
In scout-speak, Maysonet is a true football player, not a track star playing football. Yes, he could've bumped his stock with a sub-4.5 time, no doubt, but his 4.59 didn't disappoint scouts because they're familiar with his game. He's all about the production, not the stopwatch.
"People ask me, 'How fast is he?'" another scout said. "My answer to that is, 'Fast enough.' I haven't seen anyone catch him from behind."
The general sense is that Maysonet will be a late-round pick, possibly a priority free agent. No matter what happens, he'll be in somebody's training camp, trying to prove he can make the giant leap from an FCS school to the NFL.
On Friday, Maysonet was the main attraction, running, jumping and lifting under the vigilant stares of two dozen scouts. He talked with scouts from the San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals and Giants, who invited him to their regional pre-draft workout at the team facility -- the same event where they discovered Victor Cruz in 2010.
Maysonet also has private workouts scheduled with the Jets and New England Patriots, who will visit next Wednesday. The St. Louis Rams didn't make it Friday, but they requested a tape of his pro-day performance.
Pretty heady stuff. He has come a long way from his modest upbringing in Riverhead, L.I., where he lived in an apartment above an auto-repair shop. His mother worked two jobs and still wasn't able to afford youth-league football, so he didn't play organized ball until middle school.
When Maysonet put his hand to the ground at the start of his 40-yard dash, his mind focused on his family. And his school.
"I have to put Stony on the map," he said. "They've done so much for me."
And vice versa.
When a few teams suggested recently that he perform at the Rutgers pro day, Maysonet declined out of respect for his teammates. Sure, there would've been more exposure at Rutgers last week, but he also knew it would've meant fewer scouts at the Stony Brook pro day, and he didn't want to deprive his teammates of the opportunity to be seen by as many NFL eyes as possible.
"He's a great kid," one scout said.
Friday was about numbers. Maysonet weighed 212 pounds and was measured at 5-foot-8¾, a shade below his combine height. When it was announced in the school weight room, he cracked, "I shrunk," drawing laughs from scouts.
He recorded 31½ inches in the vertical jump, 8 feet, 11 inches in the broad jump and 21 reps on a 225-pound bench press -- middling numbers for a running back.
Because it was too cold outside to run, the entire operation moved to a nearby indoor facility, where Maysonet ran three 40s and clocked 4.33 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 7.15 in the three-cone drill -- average times.
Maysonet was pleased with his results, but he acknowledged he's not a speed demon.
"I knew from back when I was younger that I was never the guy that'll run a blistering time," he said. "I'm more of an in-game type of player. I'm not really a good tester, to be honest. Not to be conceited, but my tape speaks for itself."
Maysonet didn't catch many passes in college -- he was too busy breaking long runs -- but he handled himself nicely in the pass-catching drills. He ran various patterns from the running-back route tree, catching eight of 10 passes. One incompletion was a horrible overthrow, another was a high pass that went off his outstretched hands.
This wasn't his final chance to impress the scouts; he still has the individual workouts. A lifetime of hard work, and dreaming, comes down to one month.
"To hear my name if I get drafted -- Miguel Maysonet from Stony Brook -- that would be awesome," he said. "And a lot of people would go, 'Where the hell is Stony Brook?' They'll Google it and find it, and that's where it's at."