La Isla del Encanto or Island of Enchantment is how Puerto Rico is known by many tourists that have been there. Puerto Rico is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. When you look at Puerto Rico as a whole, many things come to mind. Baseball is very famous in the country. They have produced some of the best baseball players in the MLB. Another big sport in Puerto Rico is boxing. Legends like Hector “Macho” Camacho, Felix “Tito” Trinidad, Ivan Calderon and Miguel Cotto were all born in PR. They are also known for their food in Puerto Rico, there is nothing better in the world than a big plate of Arroz con gandules (Yellow rice and pigeon beans), Pernil (seasoned pork), and a glass of Parcha (Passion Fruit).
Well over the past year, one player has emerged as a hero in Puerto Rico. That is Victor Cruz of the Super Bowl Champion, New York Giants. This is the first time an NFL football player has been successful from the island of Puerto Rico, which has opened the door for my first Diamond in the Rough player of the 2012 season.
On December 13th 1989, Yolanda Santana gave birth to her third child, and youngest child in a Bayamon, Puerto Rico hospital. Yolanda and her husband Jose gave their child the name Miguel, who was named after his grandfather. At three years old, Miguel’s family packed up to look for a better chance at success. Jose was given a job in Long Island, New York, and the he took his family with him. This seemed like the smartest thing for the Maysonet family because both Jose and Yolanda wanted a better upbringing for both Miguel and his elder brothers.
Miguel would grow up to learn the English language very well, and get to have a much safer childhood development, but he still would have to overcome many things. Miguel attended high school in Riverhead, New York. Riverhead is on the North Shore of “Strong Island aka Long Island” as they call it in city. The Suffolk County town only has 33,506 people for their total population. Miguel and his brothers all attended Riverhead high school but Miguel was the only one to graduate from the three.
“I wanted to be the first from my family to go to college, and I wouldn’t stop until I accomplished that goal”- Maysonet
Over the years in Riverhead, Miguel Maysonet became a household name in the little town. Both of Maysonet’s brothers played football as well, but they were not as talented as the youngest in the family. Even though Miguel was in New York his life path was not easy. His father Jose was in and out of jail. Jose spent most of Miguel’s childhood in and out of jail and is currently incarcerated. His mother Yolanda had to be the strength and power in the household, to keep all the children in place. Both Miguel’s brothers failed to graduate from Riverhead, but Miguel found a way to stay on path.
“I looked to a sport to remain focused. Football became my way out of everything, I just wanted to succeed at something” – Maysonet
In seventh grade Miguel signed up to play football for the middle school in Riverhead. As a little Hispanic kid he was very fast, and the coach saw something in him that just jumped off of film. He had great awareness and had patience as a running back. This is where Miguel was given his best advice as a running back.
His coach told him “Slow to, Fast Through” which means run slow to the hole, but fast through the hole. Maysonet continued to embed that saying in his head, and has never forgotten it. This is what ultimately makes Maysonet one of the most patient backs in New York State history. It didn’t take long for the young Maysonet to get the call up.
As a freshman he was called up to Varsity, and started the last four games of the season at both running back, and outside linebacker. He never moved back down to junior varsity. He played both positions as a Sophomore, and as a Junior he was given the Hansen Award as the top football player in Suffolk County. After several great years in high school, Miguel graduated in 2009. He was named New York State Gatorade Player of the Year, as he rushed for 2,328 yards and scored 33 touchdowns, leading Riverhead to a 12-0 record. Miguel also lettered in track, basketball and lacrosse. Miguel was starting his path to greatness, and it was starting to show.
“I had two major schools that really wanted me to play defense in both UConn and Syracuse, but I wanted to be a running back. The only two teams that offered me a scholarship to play running back were Hofstra and Stony Brook. I ultimately chose Hofstra University.” – Maysonet
It was official Miguel was the first in his family to attend college; he left Riverhead, New York and moved to Hofstra University to stay on campus. Miguel played his freshman year and was the leading rusher with 385 yards and 3 touchdowns before finding out bad news. On December 3, 2009, the university announced it was terminating the football program. Under NCAA rules, any football players who choose to transfer to other schools will be eligible to play immediately, and not subjected to normal residency waiting periods. Scholarship-holders who wished to stay at Hofstra were permitted to keep their scholarships.
Maysonet has faced difficulty before so this was nothing new for the 5’10, 210 pound running back.
“When they dropped the program, Stony Brook was the first program to contact me, and I didn’t want to go too far off the island. I am so glad I made that decision, Stony Brook has been one of the best decisions of my life.” – Maysonet
Maysonet has used his instincts and patience on the field for Stony Brook and has become a huge success story for the Seawolves. So far in his career he has amassed 3,561 yards on just 531 carries, and has scored 35 touchdowns. As a sophomore he was named All-Big South first-team selection at running back. As a junior he had a phenomenal season where he was named Big South Offensive Player of the Year. He rushed for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns which was the most in Stony Brook and Big South history in a season. He is on pace right now this season to rush for 1760 yards and 18 touchdowns. Maysonet has been recently added to the Senior Bowl watch list, and is in the running for the Walter Payton Award which is for the best offensive player in FCS football.
Maysonet reminds me of Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants, he runs with tons of power and speed. Maysonet did not watch football growing up.. Now that he has a better understanding of the game he cheers for the Giants, but not just because of Victor Cruz.
“I cheer for the Giants because of Ahmad Bradshaw, he is not the biggest guy, or the fastest but runs extremely hard, and is smart. I am a big fan of Victor Cruz too! He opened the door for us Latinos that ball. He showed the world that we don’t just go out there and play baseball or soccer, we play football, too. And we are good at it, he is representing not just for New York but Puerto Rico.” – Maysonet
Several NFL teams have already made the trip out to Stony Brook to meet with Maysonet, and if he continues this pace he should definitely get a great look. Even though he has had to face hardship early in his life, he has a message for younger children who could be going through the same thing.
“Stay focused on what you really want in life; don’t get caught up in the hype. If you really want it you will achieve it. I always knew right from wrong, and I didn’t have the easiest up bringing but I am here now. “– Maysonet
Even though Maysonet is a small school stud, he has two islands backing him up and cheering for him. In New York, Riverhead is hoping to see an NFL football player come out of their high school, and in Puerto Rico; they have millions of people hoping to see another one of their children become a prodigy like Roberto Clemente. If Maysonet keeps it up, he could one day have his face on la Bandera de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican Flag).
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