For most of National Signing Day, the GPP took a tour of the local high schools where the newest Golden Panthers attend and here's what the 2008 FIU freshmen had to say about signing with FIU. . . .
The Golden Panthers got 6 defensive players from Class 4A state champ Booker T. Washington. Here in the photo from left to right are 5 of them all wearing new FIU caps (from left to right): Winston Fraser, Tarvis Pullins, Johnathan Jackson, Franklin Brown and Kambriel Willis and BTW defensive coordinator Sheldon Hanks.
Jackson, who had 19 sacks this season and 3.5 sacks in the state title game, thinks the six Tornadoes defenders can have an immediate impact at FIU.
"We know FIU is a young program," Jackson said. "Following them somewhat last season, I know they had a lot of young guys on defense. So if we do what we're supposed to do, I don't see why we can't get on the field early in the season. We always competed against each other on defense at Booker T. that's how we pushed each other to get better. That's how we won a state title and allowing 3 points a game also helps."
Originally it was going to be just Willis, Fraser and Jackson going to FIU, but Brown spurned Rutgers and South Florida late Tuesday night to become a Golden Panther. Pullins and defensive back Rennie Carty decided to join their teammates as well.
"That was one of the biggest things I was hoping would happen," said Willis, of 5 other Booker T. teammates joining him at FIU. "It's been a real pleasure to play with these guys. Every day it was a race between us to see who would get to the quarterback first. You can tell the FIU fans to expect big things from our defense this season."
At Norland, newest FIU defensive back Emmanuel Souarin (second from left) and offensive lineman Kenneth White (far right), both 1st team All-Dade players, gave a little advice and got a little advice regarding FIU.
Souarin watched the FIU secondary closely last season and this was his assessment: "In my first year I want to get on the field as soon as possible. They know I'm a talented DB and I can get all over the field. That was a problem last year, the secondary didn't have the speed that I have."
Souarin had a Florida and FAU hat along with an FIU hat in front of him before tossing the Gators and Owls caps to the floor and picking FIU.
"I see FIU as an upcoming program with a prospect of good talent," Souarin said. "Coach Cristobal is confident in us. He said he thinks we're gonna shock the nation."
White made the most of his visit to FIU by getting some good advice from sophomore quarterback Colt Anderson.
"I got a chance to talk to Colt," White said. "He said that college life isn't really that hard as long as you put your mind to your school life, athletic life and social life. He said you have to look at it like a pie chart: 33 percent of each. Getting on the field has to be the goal, you can't start out second-stepping."
In the Miami Springs library, T.Y. Hilton had an FIU hat and a West Virginia hat and by now you know he chose to stay home and play for the Golden Panthers.
"When I first came to Springs, everybody was asking me why I chose Springs," Hilton said. "I could have gone to the 'West [Northwestern High] and played there. But I wanted to make an impact at my own school. Now I choose FIU over West Virginia. It's basically the same thing, I'm trying to impact a program. I want to make the same impact at FIU that I made at Springs."
Hilton, who is a guard on the hardwood, will also play hoops for FIU. God knows, FIU could use all the basketball help it can get right now.
[Lake Gibson defensive end] James Jones: "One word comes to mind: explosion. We needed pressure on the quarterback. We signed arguably three of the best pass rushers, not only in the state, but in the country in James Jones, Kambriel Willis and Johnathan Jackson. We made a commitment to more athleticism, more speed and more pressure up front. These guys combined for about 70 sacks for the year."
Lowndes, Ga. running back Darriet Perry: "A rolling ball of butcher knives."
T.Y. Hilton: "Unquestionably one of the best players in the state of Florida. He's a guy that's been recruited nationally for a long time. When he touches the ball, absolute magic. He's a guy that a lot of people targeted as their franchise recruit. He stuck his foot in the ground and said I want to build this championship football program right here in my backyard."
On the relentless work it took to land a talented class: "You take a look at our staff each one of those guys probably had "No" said to them in terms of looking for a prom date at least two or three dozen times when they were in high school. They were not afraid to hear "No". What does that mean? We are not going to compromise our standards, because school A, B and C are recruiting a young man. . .If we believe in a young man, whether he has 100 offers or 0 offers we are going to go after that young man. We won some big time battles which is a testament of two things: number one: FIU and the direction of the program, and number two: the work ethic of our staff. They outworked everyone out there for these young men."
Can't get enough of FIU football? Spring practice begins on Saturday, March 8.
GPP Faithful, my apologies for not running an update thread of signings yesterday. It was quite a busy day from visiting the high schools in the morning and early afternoon, to MC's press conference at 3, to then writing the FIU NSD story and also got handed to write a UCF/FAMU/Bethune-Cookman NSD story as well with a 7 p.m. deadline on both and then had to cover the FIU hoops game against Louisiana-Lafayette. Hopefully, next NSD, I have only FIU football duties.
- Back to the blog.....I guess Jim Morris, the canes baseball coach, showed what a classy guy he is (sarcasm here) during Monday's media day over there.
- In case you missed it: Morris answered like a 1st-grader when told FIU coach Turtle Thomas wants to play the Hurricanes four times a season. Morris said: "Turtle, who?"; Morris then said: "Next question".
- As far as what happened between the two coaches while they were on the same staff in 1999, only they know for sure and they are not talking about it. But speaking with Jerry Del Castillo, who was the Hurricanes baseball Spanish play-by-play broadcaster back in 1999 and is now FIU's play-by-play hombre, JDC says: "Morris and TT did not speak all season, all communication was done through then-pitching coach Lazer Collazo."
- The two baseball games: April 2 at FIU and 23rd in Coral Gables are sure going to be interesting.
BamaGoldenBoy & FF II UU FIU: Welcome to the GPP.
I'll be taking another tour of the new stadium tommorrow and will have the latest on the "crown jewel" on the GPP soon enough.