Five days until National Signing Day, but there's no need to wait to hear from two of FIU's offensive recruits: Daytona Beach Seabreeze quarterback Troy Dannehower and North Miami wide receiver Junior Mertile.
Dannehower -- who was NOT named after former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman even though the Cowboys are his favorite NFL team -- threw for 1,550 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, along with rushing for 537 yards and 8 TDs. The soon-to-be Golden Panther, who has some pretty good initials (TD) for a football player, had a solid junior season as well. Dannehower, 6-2, 215 pounds, was named the Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 1,600 yards and rushing for 865 yards. TD graduates early from Seabreeze, but not early enough to enroll early at FIU.
GPP: Daytona Beach is not quite like Miami. How did you find your "new" home for the next four years when you took an official visit to FIU?
TD: What's great about FIU is that it's in Miami, but it's not in the middle of the city. There is a college atmosphere at FIU. Unlike Georgia Tech, which is located in the middle of Atlanta. FIU has its own area. That's good, because everything is accessible.
GPP: What did you like on your visit to FIU?
TD: That's a great stadium we're going to play in. It shows that FIU is moving in the right direction and the football facilities are going to be excellent. But what really made me want to play at FIU was the coaching staff. They are just like the coaching staff I had at Seabreeze. They are a younger coaching staff, about the same ages. They really made me feel at home and that's the type of coaching staff you enjoy playing for. It's the same deal.
GPP: Having spoken to some of the high school writers that covered you, they tell me the offense you ran at Seabreeze is very similar to the spread offense FIU installed last season. Tell us a little bit more about your high school offense.
TD: I don't know how similar it is, but at Seabreeze, I was in the shotgun 100 percent of the time and we had four wide receivers every down. But still we ran a pretty balanced offense. There were some design runs for me. I think I split the rushing carries with our running backs 40-60, with them carrying the ball about 60 percent of the time.
Junior Mertile is an All-Dade first team selection for the North Miami Pioneers. JM played all over the field in his senior season. He played receiver, running back, quarterback and defensive back. At FIU, he is expected to play receiver, but with the creativity FIU's offense showed in MC's first year, we may see JM all over the field. JM is a 6-0, 184-pounder, who is a dart with a 4.4 in the 40. He had 787 yards and 8 TDs. He also had 65 tackles and 2 interceptions.
GPP: You had offers from Mississippi State and Central Florida. Why did you commit to FIU?
JM: They're building a program to win more games. I saw they got a lot of offensive players last year and are going after a lot of defense this year. I like how the coaches are recruiting every position. They are entrusting us and the players already there to win more games.
GPP: What did you learn and like on your visit to FIU?
JM: Obviously the stadium is going to be great and so are the facilities. The coaching staff there knows what they're doing and what they are trying to build, a championship team. I really liked a lot how the classes are set at FIU and there a lot of places to eat too.
GPP: You played all over the field in high school. What are you looking to play at FIU?
JM: I'll play whereever they need me to play. I guess I'll start out by playing receiver, but the coaches might use me in different positions. I started at safety in 10th, 11th and 12th grades. Also played some quarterback when our quarterback got hurt and also played running back. I'll play whereever I can make big plays.
FI-UM Fan & FIU Fanatic: MC did not make any firings on his staff after year one. Yes, offensive coordinator James Coley's name has popped up at FSU for the tight ends/recruiting coordinator job. Coley's past LSU ties with future FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher are the reason for that. Coley made a huge impact last season with his innovative play calling. Sure would be a big loss for FIU if he heads north.
I got so wrapped up in the football season that I never asked SR to do a Q & A. But it does sound like a good idea. As far as Golden goes, that is likely out for FIU's nickname for next season. Last I heard on the logo, there aren't any planned changes to the logo and the school colors will remain BLUE and GOLD.
FIU Fanatic: Winston Fraser is the latest Booker T. commit to FIU, and Jonathan Jackson appears headed this way as well, but hold on to your caballos because we got T-minus 5 days to NSD.
RabidPantherFan: The crowds are not good at FIU hoops games, but can you blame them? The Golden Panthers hoopsters have not given them any reason to show up this season. Only the Golden Dazzlers have. As far as the location of FIU stories in the Herald, I only write them. I can make suggestions, but unfortunately I don't have a say what page FIU's stories land on.
esteban688: Welcome to the GPP. Good to hear you are a long time reader, first time poster. Thanks for the props on the blog. Much like FIU, our blog keeps growing and getting better with each passing day.
I forgot to post on the previous blog, so here's your GPP Official Countdown to Opening Day vs. USC at FIU: 21 days or three weeks.