Twenty new players comprise FIU coach Butch Davis's first Panthers signing class. Davis and his staff addressed almost every position with the 2017 class and in his press conference this afternoon, the new FIU coach said he likes to keep some scholarships open in case players emerge late. Davis cited the example of Russell Maryland, the first overall pick in the 1991 NFL draft, as someone that was signed after national signing day. Maryland had an illustrious pro career winning three Super Bowls and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
FIU signed 18 players today and already had two early enrollees (Brandon James and AJ Sattinger) to make up the signing class of 20. The Panthers welcomed 10 offensive players and 10 defensive players as part of their signing class.
FIU lost four defensive linemen to graduation and added four defensive linemen on Wednesday with Rashad Colson and Tevin Jones both from Miami Norland, Noah Curtis (Delray Heritage), and Kevin Oliver (Davie Western).
Colson, 6-6, 295 pounds, is a big body that FIU defensive coordinator Brent Guy said looks like he's already played four years of college football. Colson is also fast showing that quickness covering kickoffs for Norland. Jones is another tall defensive lineman at 6-4, who started playing football less than two years ago. Jones played basketball at Norland and the multi-sport athlete is something Davis and his staff like a lot in prospects.
Curtis is another big man at 6-6 and with room to fill on his 230 pounds. Oliver had the honor of being the first FIU player signed by Davis when he sent in his national letter of intent just shortly after 7 a.m. this morning. FIU defensive line coach Kenny Holmes cited Oliver's work ethic when he noted that Oliver works on pass rushing moves by himself on the golf course in Oliver's backyard late at night.
FIU added three linebackers to its talented corps. Joining defensive stalwarts Treyvon Williams and Anthony Wint as part of the unit are Romelo Brooks (Miami Killian), Jamal Gates (Palm Beach Dwyer) and Brandon James (Miami Southridge). All three have size, which is something you will notice with this FIU class. Gates, 6-2, comes in at 220 pounds and Brooks (6-0, 200) and James (6-3, 205) can pack on some weight. FIU lost Davison Colimon to graduation.
With 6-5 Dorian Hall (South Broward), the Panthers have a potential safety or cornerback with uncommon height for a player in the secondary. Hall is listed as an athlete because he can play so many positions. Hall is another of those multi-sport athletes that FIU signed. Davis said on our National Signing Day Live show this morning that he was very impressed with Hall when the FIU coach went to see him play basketball at South Broward.
FIU signed two other secondary members in twin brothers Richard and Rishard Dames from Miami Booker T. Washington -- two of four Tornadoes inked by the Panthers Wednesday. The Dames brothers combined for 11 interceptions last season, including three picks by Richard in an all-star game. Richard projects as a safety and Rishard as a cornerback -- both stand at 5-11 but Richard is five pounds heavier at 175.
FIU lost two of its top offensive linemen from last season in Michael Montero and Dieugot Joseph. The Panthers added three O-linemen Wednesday and all three hail from Miami. Cody Bowes (6-4, 275, Southridge), Mershawn Miller (6-3, 315, Central) and Willa Pierre (6-3, 290, Booker T. Washington) all have size ready to compete in August.
Davis mentioned Bowes's character as a possible future team leader when he recounted how Bowes told a plethora of schools calling him in the last few days that he was sticking to his commitment to FIU. Among the 16 teams chasing Bowes were Ohio State, Louisville, Kentucky, North Carolina, Central Florida and South Florida. Watching film of Miller and Pierre you see how the pair drive defenders down the field. There's some serious strength there.
FIU added some speed with the four receivers it signed Wednesday. Bryce Singleton (Hilton Head, S.C.), Shermar Thornton (Hallandale), DeAndre Williams (Miami Booker T. Washington) and Jacob White (Charlotte) each stand at 6-0 and each can run. Singleton scored 24 touchdowns in three different ways (10 receiving, 11 rushing and three returns). Like Singleton and Thornton, White can beat you in the passing game and returning kicks. White, who FIU flipped from Florida Atlantic, showed some terrific separation on his kick returns when you see his film.
Sattinger gives FIU versatility being able to play tight end and H-back. The 6-2, 225-pounder is a graduate transfer from Coastal Carolina, who enrolled earlier this semester at FIU, and counts toward the 2017 class. With the departure of Jonnu Smith to likely play Sundays in the NFL, Sattinger joins A.J. Branisel at tight end. Branisel emerged last season when given the chance to play.
In the offensive backfield FIU added quarterback Kaylan Wiggins, who is the son of a coach and who had to play in two different offensive systems in the final two years of his high school career. That exposure to different offenses will only help Wiggins under FIU offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Rich Skrosky, who likes to use multiple formations. Wiggins is a dual-threat quarterback accounting for 29 touchdowns last season (22 passing, seven rushing).
D'Vonte Price is the lone running back in the 2017 class but he has a chance to be special. Price is a tall back at 6-3 and weighs 195 pounds. He has good hands catching the ball out of the backfield and adds another dimension to the FIU running game. Returning backs Alex Gardner and Anthony Jones join a healthy Napoleon Maxwell along with the bulky Shawndarrius Phillips and now Price.
If you like to go by the star system, then you will appreciate that more than three-fourths of FIU signees were three-star recruits. Davis and his coaching staff signed these type of players in less than two months time. Imagine what the class will look like next February.