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FIU Summer Camping in the NFL

66 days away from the season opener against Penn State in Happy Valley, already booked my plane, car and hotel in PA. So it's never too early to talk a little football. The GPP recently caught up with 3 of the 4 former Golden Panthers in the NFL and here is what's going on with each of them.

Frank Looks like Antwan "El Monstruo" Barnes has made a huge impact already with the Baltimore Ravens. Abarnes_2

Speaking with a Baltimore reporter who covers the team, AB was the talk of the Ravens mini-camps for his outstanding speed and knack for finding the ball....Now where have we seen that before? Depending on training camp in late July, it looks like AB could be starting on special teams and could see action on defense in his first year.

"Everything went pretty good," said AB, of the mini-camps. "Everything is fast-paced. [Ravens linebackers] Gary Stills and Mark Scott have been giving me a lot of insight on the defense and what to expect my rookie season. They've told me you can't do everything in your first year. I'm going to play special teams. I got to get into the playbook more. This Ravens defense is wow, something I have never seen before."

Csmith Another former Golden Panther making a good first impression is Philadelphia Eagles rookie safety Chris "The Bull" Smith. Like AB, Smith played defense and special teams during the Eagles mini-camps. Bull_2

Chris had a few interceptions and pass breakups. He says he didn't pick off Donovan McNabb, but liked that he got a lot of reps during the four camps.

Chris's position coach is John Harbaugh, who coincidentally was a candidate at one time for the FIU head coaching position before MC was hired.

"Coach Harbaugh told me that I could play in this league," Smith said. "I just have to learn to be in the right spots all the time. There is no room for error in the NFL. I didn't take a knee all through any of the camps. Practice speed here is like college game speed. I was surprised as a free agent that I got as many reps as I did in the camps. Nick Turnbull has been talking to me a lot about what to expect my rookie season. He's been a big help."

Chris asked how the 2007 FIU football team will be and I told them they'll be better on offense and hopefully just as good as last year's defense. He expects to be at the Penn State opener with teammate Tony Hunt, who is a PSU grad.

Chandler Williams is vying for a job as the Minnesota Vikings return specialist along with being one of their top 4 receivers. The Vikings list of receivers is not too impressive so CW may get a shot there. Cw2

"I've played all four receiver spots during the camps," CW said. "I've been doing good on 1-on-1's, but the plays are a lot harder to learn than college. But once I get them down, I feel good about my chances."

CW signed a four-year contract last month and is ready for training camp.

Nick With Turnbull, a safety on the Atlanta Falcons, that makes 4 FIUers in the NFL. Not too shabby for a five-year old program.

Here's when these players meet each other during the upcoming NFL season: In preseason play on August 13 - Eagles vs. Ravens; Aug. 31- Ravens vs. Falcons.

In the regular season: the Falcons open at the Vikings on Sept. 9; the Eagles play at the Vikings on Oct. 28 and El Monstruo's Miami NFL debut is December 16 when the Ravens visit the Dolphins.

As for the other FIUers, 2-time Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, Keyonvis Bouie has not heard back from the New Orleans Saints after what he thought was a good showing.

"The camp wasn't more than what I expected," Bouie said. "The speed of practice was a lot faster. I thought I did really well. I had no problems with my knee. It's 100 percent healthy. Right now, I'm just working out here in Pahokee."

Tight end Sam Smith joined Bouie in the Saints camp after he was not signed out of the Chicago Bears camp. Smith also has not heard back from the Saints. QB Josh Padrick was with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he did not receive an offer after the Jags rookie camp.

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