FIU football will begin training camp for its 12th season next Monday, August 5 at 9 a.m. Yes, practices for the first couple of weeks are open to you good people. Over the next several days on here I'll start previewing the team and what to look for in camp to get you ready for the season.
In the last week or so several former FIU football players began NFL training camps. Here is a look at those players.
San Diego Chargers rookie Tourek Williams is off to a good start in Chargers camp as standout defensive lineman Dwight Freeney noticed. Like many rookies, Williams (below) will be looking to earn some playing time. Williams certainly has a terrific mentor in Freeney, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL for a long time.
FIU's all-time sack leader Antwan Barnes is on a new team this season. Barnes, who was a San Diego Charger last season, is with the New York Jets this season. Barnes had a career-high 11.5 sacks two seasons ago, but dealt with some injury issues last season. The Jets pass rush has been bad the last several seasons. The Jets are hoping Barnes, who is now healthy, can provide a spark and deliver another double-digit sack season.
At training camp the other day Barnes wore a t-shirt honoring former FIU teammate, the late Chandler Williams.
As you might know FIU's all-time leading receiver and Indianapolis Colt T.Y. Hilton has been featured in several national media season previews the last few weeks.
NFL.com thinks Hilton is one of the top 40 players that will make the leap this season. Hilton is ranked No. 9.
Also, there is a feature story on Hilton in this week's Sports Illustrated magazine and CLICK HERE for a video on T.Y. that was shot at FIU two weeks ago.
During the SI/Hilton video shoot at FIU, I had the chance to hang out with Hilton. Among some of the things we talked about was his mindset going into his second season. Hilton said he's feeling a lot more comfortable as he heads into his second year in the NFL. One of his goals this season is to reach 1,000 receiving yards and return two or three punts for a touchdown. In a light-hearted segment that was not aired in the Sports Illustrated video, the SI producer asked Hilton if he plays with a chip on his shoulder against those teams that passed on him in the draft, to which Hilton replied: "Ask the Dolphins". Hilton hung 102 yards and the game-winning touchdown on Miami last season in the Colts 23-20 win.
Entering his third season in the NFL, cornerback Anthony Gaitor should have his best chance at significant playing time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gaitor (above) is part of a group of defensive backs looking to win a starting spot opposite newly-acquired Darrelle Revis.
Johnathan Cyprien, FIU's highest drafted player, continues to recover from a hamstring injury at Jacksonville Jaguars camp. Cyprien had a terrific summer with the Jaguars, earning praise from Jacksonville coaches as the most outstanding player during OTAs.
Offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann is in camp with the Cleveland Browns trying to earn a roster spot. Hauptmann, an undrafted free agent, is capable of making the Browns roster, but is competing with a slew of offensive linemen on what is expected to be a veteran offensive front.
Junior Mertile encounters a similar situation with the New York Giants. Mertile (above) is competing for a spot in the Giants secondary. Although Mertile had his ups and downs in pass coverage during his FIU career, what can help Mertile is his speed, especially if he can find a spot on special teams. The only player that came close to Hilton's speed at FIU was Mertile.