Stacey Bedell and Jordan Gowins have quite a bit in common: they both play prominent roles on the Stony Brook Seawolves football team, they’re both running backs and they’re both having solid seasons. What most people may not know is that the two are cousins.
Gowins, a sophomore, joined the Seawolves this season after playing his freshman year at Boston College. His decision to come to Stony Brook was due in large part to the opportunity to play with Bedell, a redshirt junior who joined the Seawolves a couple of years earlier.
“I grew up watching him and my brother,” Gowins said about his cousin “I never really expected to be playing on the same level and reaching for the same goals [as Bedell], so when the opportunity came, it was something I had to take. I don’t regret it at all.”
Naturally, Bedell shared the sentiment and was pleased to finally be able to compete with Gowins.
“It was definitely a good feeling for him to be joining me. He’s my cousin,” Bedell said. “We never had a chance to play together on the same team as kids.”
Bedell and Gowins agreed that they shared a close bond throughout their lives. Since Gowins has arrived to Stony Brook, the duo have shared a house off-campus, thus spending a lot of time together.
In their first full season together at Stony Brook, Bedell and Gowins have been a force in the backfield: the two have combined 12 touchdowns and over 1,000 rushing yards in nine games as of Nov. 5. Bedell credits their contrasting abilities as the key that throws off opposing defenses.
“Our styles definitely complement each other well,” he said. “[Gowins] is more of a power guy and I’m more of the fast, shifty dude. The defense is not going to know what to expect when he’s in the game or I’m in the game. We can hit them with a different punch.”
Gowins described the experience of being able to look to his left or right and see his cousin standing there on the field alongside him as “surreal.” The two admitted to each enjoying a friendly game of one-upmanship, as long as it results in their team winning.
“When [Bedell] breaks a big run, I feel I’ve got to do the same, and vice-versa,” Gowins said. “It adds fuel to the fire.”
Their head coach, Chuck Priore, has taken notice of their friendship and how it equates to on-field success.
“It’s pretty special,” Priore said of his running backs. “When you play the same position, you have to root for the other guy who’s taking some of the things you want to do, but they have a special relationship. I think they have a lot of respect for each other. Stacey’s older, and Jordan looks up to him, but Stacey doesn’t treat him that way.”
Bedell has rediscovered his stride this fall after a season-ending injury held him to three games the previous year. While Bedell has gotten the bulk of the work in Priore’s offense, Gowins has undoubtedly been a crucial complementary player in the backfield. While the two will likely never be directly involved in exchanging the ball, barring a wildcat or lateral play, the two have still found a way to help each other on the field in the heat of the action.
“When we’re in the game at the same time and one person is blocking for the other, I feel like we’re going to get it done,” Bedell said. “Because we’re family.”
Family has played a role in the running backs’ fan support as well. Bedell and Gowins’ parents, aunts, uncles and cousins all show up to support them every home game.
The feeling that Bedell and Gowins get from gazing into the crowd at their respective number 21 and 23 jerseys is just one more perk of the pair’s familial status. At the end of the day, it’s their skill that has made them successful. Priore thinks that their bond doesn’t hurt, though.
“They’re probably best friends first and teammates second,” he said.