WEST LONG BRANCH — Gearing up for their first game of the season, the Monmouth University football team held their Media Day on Wednesday, Aug. 15, at Kessler Stadium in West Long Branch.
Three local athletes are hoping for a chance to shine in the 2018-2019 season, including former Brick Memorial products Justin Szuba and Brady Watson, along with Wall’s Gene Scott [View video].
“We get opportunities everyday and you have to make the most of what you have,” Szuba said. “I can learn the offense inside and out, really focus on my position and then prove it on the field. You have to make the most of camp.”
Last year, the Hawks finished 9-3 overall, 4-1 in the Big South and made an appearance in the 2017 NCAA Playoffs. Unfortunately, Monmouth fell to Northern Iowa in the first round on Nov. 25, 46-7. Despite the steep loss, the entire program will use their experience this season to hopefully further the program’s success.
For Szuba, he is looking to find a home at right tackle, as the Hawks are setting up for one of the program’s most powerful combinations on the offensive line. The former Mustang has his work cut out for him, as Monmouth returns 10 of 11 starting offensive positions. Holding high expectations for himself, Szuba could be in the running to see some time as a true sophomore, but is happy to be apart of the Hawk family regardless.
Scott, who has seen some minutes as a tight end and on special teams, is hoping to add some more game experience to his résumé in his sophomore year.
“I want to contribute in anyway I can, that means getting on the field more offense and on any special teams,” Scott said. “I worked every aspect of my game [in the offseason] HAWKS and I’m hoping it pays off.”
Watson, had a different road to the Hawks roster as he opted out of football his freshman year, but quickly decided he’d rather be on the field than in the stands.
“I thought I was leaving [football] in high school, then I went to the first couple of games and decided it was time to try and see if I can [play],” Watson said. “I took a year off, gained some weight for the tryout and it was definitely a long and hard journey … but it paid off.”
The Hawk and New York Jets fan reached out to former high school coach Walt Currie and Jets cornerback Buster Skrine to help get himself back into football shape.
“I actually reached out to [Skrine] and told him what I was trying to do. He had the same type of journey himself and took me under his wing,” Watson explained. “We started training one-on-one and he really was a big influence to not give up, to keep pushing and keep driving to make the team.”
Monmouth’s first game of the season will be Friday, Aug. 31, on the road against Eastern Michigan with kickoff at 6:30 p.m. The Hawks will host the Hampton Pirates in their season opener on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 3 p.m. as Kessler Stadium.
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