This is the fourth installment in a series of stories that will follow former Stony Brook star Miguel Maysonet on his road to the NFL draft.
Miguel Maysonet walked into the New York Giants' locker room one day recently before a pre-draft workout and stared at the names atop the locker stalls. Eli Manning. Justin Tuck. Victor Cruz. It was a pinch-me moment.
Much to his delight, Maysonet was escorted to his own stall, a temporary locker with a personalized nameplate. There it was -- his name, with a Giants logo -- staring out at a room filled with former Super Bowl champions.
"It was pretty sweet, a surreal feeling, actually having my own nameplate," said Maysonet, who kept it for a souvenir. "Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks and months, I'll have my own team and a set nameplate."
That has been his dream since he first started playing organized football as a seventh grader in Riverhead, L.I., and now he's only days away from taking the next step.
After a record-breaking career at Stony Brook, followed by three months of intense draft preparation, Maysonet will be sitting on his couch in Riverhead on Saturday for the third day of the NFL draft -- Rounds 4 to 7.
He'll be surrounded by family, friends and a few former teammates, the people most instrumental in his career. "A little draft party," he called it. "Nothing too crazy."
This is the beauty of the draft. Naturally, the big party occurs at Radio City Music Hall, where the top prospects sweat out their fates in the green room. But there are green rooms across the country, with players like Maysonet, many of them from small schools, staring at their TV screen and waiting for a team to call.
A total of 254 players will be drafted over three days, starting Thursday with the first round, and there's a decent chance Maysonet will hear his named called in the sixth or seventh round, according to scouts and draft experts. That would be a big deal because no former player in Stony Brook history can say he was an NFL draft pick.
If he doesn't get drafted, he's expected to sign quickly as a free agent.
Despite his FCS background, Maysonet has created some buzz. On Tuesday, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said on the air that Maysonet could be this year's Alfred Morris -- a lofty comparison. Morris, drafted in the sixth round last year out of Florida Atlantic, rushed for 1,613 yards as a rookie for the Redskins.
NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock admitted he knew nothing about Maysonet until late last fall, when his son -- a member of the Villanova team -- raved about Maysonet's tape during the run-up to the Villanova-Stony Brook playoff game.
"It made me go out and take a peek at the kid," Mayock said. "He's a solid back with some burst and explosion. He's not on the national radar, but he's a guy I get a kick out of. [I'm] not sure he's going to get drafted, but he's one of those guys that certainly has an opportunity to make a team."
An AFC assistant coach, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said of Maysonet, "He plays fast. Quick as hell. That play in the Syracuse game was unbelievable. It got my attention."
That play, a 71-yard touchdown run in which he hurdled a defender, is his signature moment. He always hears about that play from scouts.
Everybody knows he can run. In recent weeks, Maysonet has been trying to convince scouts he can catch the ball. He dominated in a run-oriented offense at Stony Brook, recording only 18 receptions in three years, so there's a natural curiosity about his receiving skills. When you're 5-foot-9, 209 pounds, it's important to have that in your toolbox.
When he worked out for the Giants, on their pro day for local prospects, Maysonet spent 20 minutes running routes and catching passes. That was it. No 40-yard dash. No weight lifting.
Two days later, he participated in the New York Jets' local pro day, and it was more of the same. The one difference between his visits to the Jets and Giants: At the Jets, the two dozen or so prospects didn't get lockers, only chairs in the middle of the locker room.
"It was still awesome either way, name tag or not," Maysonet said.
Only one team came to Stony Brook for a private workout -- the New England Patriots, who dispatched running backs coach Ivan Fears. The Patriots like small-school backs with receiving skills -- see Danny Woodhead, now an ex-Patriot -- so you never know.
Fears and Maysonet spent two hours in the film room, analyzing his runs from last season. On each play, Fears asked technical questions about his reads, assignments, etc.
From there, they went to the practice field for a pitch and catch. Maysonet volunteered to summon one of the Stony Brook quarterbacks for the session, but he caught passes from Fears.
"Man, for an older guy, he can throw the ball pretty good," Maysonet said with a laugh.
So now he waits and fields calls -- a lot of calls. Teams call every day, checking on his health, asking for contact numbers on draft day and, sometimes, just making conversation.
On Monday, Maysonet received calls from 16 teams. The Green Bay Packers called during an interview with ESPNNewYork.com. It's great to feel wanted.
"It's an awesome feeling," he said. "You hang up with one team, and another team calls. It feels like it's actually happening, the draft is really here. I can't wait for this weekend."