The first FIU depth chart of the 2015 season is out. Based on camp practices and what coaches have said there aren't many eyebrow raisers here. Still, let's take an inside look at the season's first depth chart.
LT 78 Dieugot Joseph, 65 Daquane Wilkie; LG 70 Aaron Nielsen, 69 Chris Miller, 72 James Cruise; C 64 Michael Montero, 61 Danny Nunez, 76 Neal Mars; RG 73 Trenton Saunders, 68 Chris Flaig; RT 75 Edens Sineace, 65 Daquane Wilkie.
With the loss of Jordan Budwig to season-ending shoulder surgery, the left guard spot has seen several players vie for the job. Nielsen, who can play various positions, has been a valuable cog to the O-line. Nielsen will see action at either guard spot. Maybe at right guard with Saunders currently dealing with an injury. Montero should do just fine as the new center. Outside of Joseph and Nielsen there isn't much game-experience on the O-line.
TE 87 Jonnu Smith, 80 Ya’Keem Griner, 11 Akil Dan-Fodio; WR 81 Thomas Owens, 9 Shug Oyegunle, 17 Mark Hutchinson; WR 5 Clinton Taylor, 14 Dennis Turner, 82 Julian Williams.
Smith is money in the bank, unless it's a Greek bank. Griner had a good camp and I think will show his potential this season. Dan-Fodio is underrated as a pass catcher and will help. Owens is poised for a breakout season. Taylor is steady. Turner will have to be the deep threat especially with tall, rangy receivers Juwan Caesar and Shawn Abrams out for the opener. Williams displayed secure hands in camp. Not listed but certainly in the mix is freshman Anthony Jones.
QB 12 Alex McGough, 8 Christian Alexander or 6 Bud Martin or 10 Trey Anderson; RB 42 Anthon Samuel, 1 Alex Gardner, 2 Anthony Jones.
McGough has taken control of the offense and made enough strides from last season that he doesn't have to look over his shoulder. Coach Ron Turner said this morning that Christian Alexander and Anderson are the co-backups to McGough. Alexander has not looked like a freshman since arriving at FIU in the spring. Alexander has displayed a maturity running the offense and a strong arm. Expect Samuel and Gardner to carry the load in the run game. Silas Spearman or Alfonso Randolph could get carries that would have gone to Napoleon Maxwell, who is out for the season. Turner has said before that Jones could get carries as well.
DE 11 Denzell Perine, 91 Anthony Johnson, 90 Fermin Silva; DT 93 Imarjaye Albury, 98 Leonard Washington, 94 Marques Cheeks; DT 44 Darrian Dyson, 74 Lars Koht, 46 Milord Juste; DE 55 Michael Wakefield, 24 Josh Glanton, 92 John Broome.
The defensive line is the strength of the FIU defense. Key will be the play of Albury, Dyson, Koht and the rest of the tackles to give the linebackers opportunities to make plays. Johnson and Glanton had good camps spelling Perine and Wakefield. Should the FIU offense have some three-and-outs and keep the FIU D on the field there is good depth on the D-line to withstand the extra plays.
LB 53 Anthony Wint, 47 Sage Lewis, 41 Fred Russ; LB 52 Treyvon Williams, 34 Jephete Matilus; LB 35 Davison Colimon, 57 Jordan Guest, 29 Vontarius West.
Wint, Williams and Colimon make up one of the better linebacker units in the conference. Matilus, the Minnesota transfer, earned his spot behind Williams with a solid month of practice. With the athletes on the linebacker corps this group has a chance to be special. Guest and Lewis have the ability to be starters but the firm of Wint, Williams and Colimon have a hold on the first team.
CB 3 Richard Leonard, 28 Deonte Wilson, 20 Emmanuel Lubin; CB 7 Jeremiah McKinnon, 22 Mark Bruno, 39 Jestin Green; S 33 Niko Gonzalez, 27 Xavier Hines; S 38 Wilkenson Myrtil, 26 Shermarke Spence, 31 Tyree Johnson.
FIU should be set at the corners with cousins Leonard and McKinnon. Wilson moved from safety, early in camp, to backing up Leonard. Lubin and Bruno are good backups. Myrtil and Gonzalez have the athletic ability to play safety but lack the game experience. You can expect for Myrtil and Gonzalez to be tested early and often by opposing quarterbacks, especially with the lockdown corners that FIU has in Leonard and McKinnon.
P 16 Chris Ayers or 6 Stone Wilson; K 43 Austin Taylor, 96 Scott Wade; LS 45 Sam Medlock, 51 Brandon Taylor; HOLD 16 Chris Ayers.
Ayers appeared to have the upper hand for the punter's job in camp but it seems like that position will be fluid until either Ayers or Wilson cements the job. Austin Taylor has improved each season and held off Wade in camp. Medlock and Brandon Taylor have been automatic in their FIU careers.
Punt Return 3 Richard Leonard, 5 Clinton Taylor, 2 Anthony Jones; KR 3 Richard Leonard, 5 Clinton Taylor, 2 Anthony Jones, 7 Jeremiah McKinnon.
If FIU's offense needs time to find it's footing then Leonard could provide a quick six points in the return game. Leonard is as electric returning kicks as a former No. 4 was at FIU that you may know as Eugene Hilton. I'm eager to see Jones get a chance to return kicks. Jones does not have the top end speed like Hilton or Leonard but he does have the video game moves that creates plenty of open space for himself.