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FIU Recruiting Prowl: Offensive Line

National Signing Day is getting closer and your Golden Panthers are assembling a pretty solid class. But like a top-notch quarterback is vital to any offense, so is an impenetrable offensive line. Any John Madden_2 Madden knows that if you can't block, then you can't run or pass.

The FIU O-line had a good season in 2008, but there's always room for improvement. Outside of games against Kansas (3 sacks), Iowa (6 sacks) and Troy (7 sacks), the O-line made steady progress throughout last season.

Of course, not all of the sacks or difficulty running the ball falls on the OL -- the rest of the offense has to do their part when it comes to avoiding sacks and running the football effectively. And if you remember, as last season progressed so did the entire FIU offense.

Before we look at the OL, here is your OFFICIAL COUNTDOWN TO SIGNING DAY: 19 days (Feb. 4, 2009).

OFFENSIVE LINE

FIU established a starting base on the OL last season with Ula Matavao at LT, Andy Leavine at LG, Brad Serini Serini at C, Mario Caraballo at RG and Joe Alajajian at RT and the unit jelled as the season moved on.

However, several of the linemen could be in position battles come spring practice and into fall camp, because of the talent MC, OL coach Greg Laffere and the staff is recruiting. In addition some of the freshmen holdovers that redshirted last season such as Kenny White and Stephen Bailey could get in on the fun. Plus, if and when Cedric Mack joins the group that will also make it interesting and Chris Cawthon (knee) was playing well last season before the injury at North Texas.

Adding into the OL mix are heralded incoming freshmen linemen such as Giancarlo Revilla (270s lbs.), Dave Istanich (290s), Derek Wimberly (250-260s) and Rupert Bryan (250-260s), who could move to the other side of the ball.Cc_2

The biggest OL prize still out there for FIU could be Laman Toiaivao of Mt. San Antonio (JUCO) in California. LT is a good buddy of Ula's and would be a huge addition to the FIU OL.

6-6, 310-pound Aaron Schulte (North Dakota State College) also could step right in and play should he become a Panther and the most intriguing recruit still available for FIU might be Claudyson Calixte (right), who plays for small school Westlake Prep in Davie, but there is nothing small about CC who measures 6-7 and weighs 356.

Fiuhelmet Here are the OL, FIU brings back: Saf Ahmad, Joe Alajajian, Michael Alls, Stephen Bailey, Mario Caraballo, Chris Cawthon, Devon Dickerson, Chad Edwards, Juan Gonzalez, Javon Hill, Andy Leavine, Cedric Mack, Ula Matavao, Luis Pena, Brad Serini, Kenny White, James Wiggins.

Fiuhelmet_2 Here are the OL, FIU loses: Dustin Gibson.

Carnac 2009 guesstimations: There is plenty of returning talent and even more talent incoming. The sky seems to be the limit for the OL, especially with another offseason in the weight room and another year playing together.

The FIU offense developed some playmakers last season and is getting another influx of talent at the skill positions this year. With improved line play this season, the Panthers O has a chance to be real special.

FIU surrendered 28 sacks last season. If the OL made progress in the offseason conditioning program and all the new OL talent makes it to FIU by August, then we could see a vastly improved running game and sacks allowed drop to the range of 10-15. Challenging the program record of 9 sacks allowed in 2004, might be a bit of a stretch this season, but there's no reason the OL can't do it in the coming years.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw We've looked at all the positions throughout the FIU Recruiting Prowl, so vote after the Pawse to see what is the most important need/position that the Panthers must fill in this recruiting class.

To the questions:

FIU Love: Didnt Devin play last year in one or two games and do excellent?

GPP: Parrish played in 2 games last season.

Jsuarez88: Any word on AJ Grant? Kyle McDowell?

GPP: Not likely coming this way.

FIUPantherFan: Yes, please update us on Galindo. Is he hurt again? Exor_2

UltimateFIUFan: Pete as soon as you have any word on Galindo & Freddy please let us know.

GPP: Was told Galindo and Asprilla both will play Saturday night vs. Denver. Although, like Clawing Cancer pointed out an exorcism priest could come in handy with the health of the hoops team this year.

      

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Great information Pete!!! Coaching staff knows it all starts with the O-line and dominating the line of scrimmage. Seems like their could be serious competition at every position.

GO FIU!!!!

just thought i should point out tat in the dade and broward game one of our potential recruits ceasar Rodriguez got 2 sacks tonight... solid DE prospect

Pete, C. Cancer is a clever soul; however it was I who thought up the exorcism idea (lol!).

Last night I attended the Belen vs. Columbus boys B-Ball game @ U.S. Century Arena (a.k.a. GPA). My oldest currently attends Belen and younger will start next year. What a sight! Over 5,500 people to watch B-ball @ our home arena! I saw PG, FIU donors and BOT members, SR and other community leaders @ the game. It was an event! Since Belen has similar colors to FIU and Columbus has a strong Blue presence in their colors, the Arena looked FIUed-Out! Most of the Belen students NEVER sat down, same with a contingent of Columbus kids. It was a sight to be seen. Seeing the color similarities between FIU's team and what was present their last night, I couldn't help but to think about our program getting to the level of having EVERY home game looking like that. The roar of the crowd, especially Belen side since the Wolverines smoked the Explores by 22 was deafening!

Dreaming is free; however with 40K+ students, 100K+ alumni, about 5k FIU employees and countless other college hoops fans in the community, I hope attracting 5K per game will become possible. IT ALL STARTS WITH WINNING! Let go SR and team make it happen, win and fill up the Arena in the future! I'll be there tonight!

GO FIU!!!

I went to the Dade/Broward game last night for the first half, dinner plans at Barton Gs on the beach shortened my much anticipated opportunity to see these kids play.

What I didn't see, were many guys from the Blustein article with the rosters...

I had a list on the previous blog based on what the Herald announced. The only guys that played were:

Jarius Williams - played sparingly ??
Caesar Rodriguez - made some nice TFLs/sacks

Cory Henry - went against Bullock all night, once he got vertical out of stance, was able to get around Bullock

Keith Reaser - made some nice tackles
Terrance Taylor - played seldomly, looks ready
Kenneth Dillard - active all of the field
Korvic Neat - looks too thin ?? but fast
Shane Gordon - lays the wood
Roderick Blunt - lays the wood
Marques Aiken - made some plays
Ashley Bullock - thin legs at 6'8" (footwork is avg.)

Tourek Williams was in jeans and did not dress. He looks bigger than whatever the services list him as. My guess is that the NMB boys sat out because of the visit this weekend to FIU.

I was not too impressed with Duron Carter or Eugene Smith for that matter. Corey Clarke DB from Central was all over Duron Carter and had 2 picks slip away cuz he could not secure the ball. Although, Eugene Smith threw those passes on a rope with impressive RPMs.

Lamar Miller was solid and looked like a 4 star prospect. Sterling Griffin looks like a nice player. I wonder if there is any chance to snag him away from Purdue and USF ?


Thanks for sharing that information BlueandGold. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the game.

From what I saw in Herald, Williams(FIU commit)caught a touchdown pass. I bet many college coaches/scouts were at the game.

GO FIU!!!

Another great win for FIU basketball tonight!! Came down to the wire and we were able to pull it out! Just keep the wins coming!!

UFF: Yeah, it was your idea. Just thought I'd give you some more support. Thanks for calling me clever, by the way. Even thought I'm really not. I still would like to see FIU get a babalu for half-time, though. Maybe he could conjure up a way to get the arena full. :)

Anyway... just read the recap of the FIU-Denver game... wow. Just wow. Gotta note a couple of things here.

- DEFENSE: FIU, down 57-51 with over 5 minutes to go, holds the Pioneers SCORELESS for the rest of the game. Freakin' fantastic. That's how you win games late.

- OFFENSE: Granted, 59 points isn't much. But Denver has one of the better D's in the league (statistically, anyway), so I guess that's not a big shocker. Besides, FIU's a team, like most, that's going to go hot-and-cold. You gotta have solid D to win on nights where you don't shoot well. And you have to score when it counts. Going on a 8-0 run to close the game is straight-up clutch.

- FREE THROWS (I): 27-of-38 for the game, 16-of-21 in the 2nd half. That's 71 and 76 percent, respectively. Since when has FIU actually hit free throws? Especially to win games? That's outstanding work.

- FREE THROWS (II): I would also like to note the amount of free trips to the line. FIU had 38. That's what you get when you have a real post presence, and Asprilla's definitely giving it to them. He had 8, but only hit 4. That's gotta get better, but he is a true freshman who's playing damn well otherwise, so free pass there. The guards and forwards penetrating should get the majority of those FT's anyway, and they did last night. Taylor, Dominguez and Galindo had 20 total. That's more than Denver had as a TEAM (16).

- FREE THROWS (III): I will also give Dominguez, Bright and Gacesa props for going perfect (4-4, 2-2 and 6-6) and Galindo for hitting 9-of-10. And special props to Dominguez for hitting the winning shots from the line with 10 seconds to go, AFTER drawing a foul. Taylor and Essola.... gotta get better. Especially Taylor. Guards should never go 2-for-6 on the FT line.

I know Denver's not a good team... losing 40 straight on the road is just pathetic... but I must say that I like what I've seen from this team since Galindo's come back to the lineup. This is a solid middle-of-the-pack SBC team, which is a big step in the right direction. God only knows how much better they'd be if Soto, Hicks, Otero and N'Diaye were able to play. Especially Soto and Hicks.

And, frankly, the coaches probably have a huge influence in this, too. The free throws, especially, is where good coaching can make a big mark. It sure looks like SR and company are making that a priority in the practices, and whatever they're doing, it's working. Maybe Pete can shed some light on that.

In summation... I like! Keep it up, boys!

Hey Pete,

I have a suggestion Since off season conditioning has started, and spring ball is a few months away can you have an interview with the strength coach so we can get an idea of how the redshirt freshmen are coming along and how he plans to try and get guys that come in the summer acclimated to his program.

Another close, but good, win for the men's hoops team. We have to take advantage of playing and winning at home, and try to steal one or two more away games to be in full contention. CC made a great summation for what is going on. North Texas is next at home Thursday night....Gotta go there and support our team!


Congrats to the basketball team!!

very nice crowd last night at the U.S. Century Bank arena, got into it late in the game which was nice to see. Need that type of crowd support to continue as this team has 6 Sun Belt home games left this season.

Great win and great job defnesively by our team. I was getting dizzy watching Denver with all the screens and motion offense they run.

C. Cancer, I second your analysis. Denver keeps the scores low because they exhaust the clock on every possession. GUESS WHAT I HEARD @ THE GAME LAST NIGHT; SOUTO WILL START @ THUR'S GAME! Our on the court QB is back and his arrival is even more important than Galindo's because he will be the creator on EVERY possession. With Asprilla, Galindo, Dominguez and Gacesa playing better, Souto arrival will elevate that!

I hear Otero and Hicks are only a couple of weeks away! Just in time!

GO FIU!!!

Just a follow-up; WE NEED BUTTS IN SEAT FOR ALL HOME GAMES FROM HERE ON OUT! For those on this blog, please spread the word to other students. These guys feed off the crowds energy and NOW that we are getting healthy they need the support more than ever. For those alumni and/or fans of the program, same goes to you. Invite a friend; $5 for Div-I hoops is a steal!

GO FIU!!!

Ultimate FIU - I hear you brother....

Clawing Cancer,

You being the resident BBall blog expert, I saw that the men's hoops team went 1 -20 in 2006/2007. Is my info accurate ? Actually saw this in a PDF on the FIU site as I looked at Sergio's record ? Football and BBall together won 1 game in the 2006 Fall sports season.

I had no idea the team was that dismal. This has to be an understated component, as to why no one goes to the games. Alumni and students have been conditioned to think we SUCK in ALL sports, all the while as a part of a NON-BRAND conference, with ZERO TV exposure for any of our student athletes. They need to WIN games more consistently. I hope that Hicks comes back with a fire in his BELLY and something to prove. Russell and Alex are gone after this season, it would be awesome to go dancing in the NCAAs after winning the SBC tourney...

Hey Pete Garcia, I know you read this BLOG. I just wanted to say thank you for taking a hard nosed approach to eradicating the LOSING mentality at FIU. Sometimes TOUGH LOVE is needed to get the job done right and along the way there will always be critics and HATERs.

I HAVE TWO REQUESTS:

1.)IS A FAST TRACK PLAN OUT OF THE SUN BELT POSSIBLE ????

2.)CAN WE GET A RADIO CONTRACT WITH ONE OF THE LOCAL AM STATIONS TO COVER (FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL & BASEBALL ??)

We have an easy demographic of close to 200,000 people in some way associated with FIU. A Flagship station with coaches shows once a week all year round would do wonders. ***YES, I do realize that all of this has a COST $$$ associated with it.

***If Alumni and Students are conditioned to see consistent media coverage, the ROI becomes increased support. Naturally, the majority of humans walking the planet never lead and research things. We follow the beat of the drum. If the DRUM in this town is always MIAMI, MIAMI, MIAMI....then we are always going to be swimming upstream.

To make believers. IF YOU WALK, THE WALK...WE BETTER TALK, THE TALK....

Can anyone tell me if, this season is when FIU hosts round 1 of the NCAAs at the Triple A or is that next year ?


Great post FIUBlueandGold! probably the best i've seen here. Good points. We need to win win and win. The masses need to take notice, then we will sky rocket to the highest level!

FIUBlueandGold, I think that 1-20 record was due to the sanctions of that year. Remember Football, Basketball and Baseball had low academic support, so the NCAA took away victories and scholarships. I know in 2006-07 we were bad, however 1-20? We had more victories, maybe Pete can answer that one. How about it Pete, what was our real and official record on 2006-07?

BTW FIUBlueandGold, thanks for the title of official blog bball expert! I'll wear it proudly! See you and everyone else @ Thu's game vs North Texas. Remember bring a guest!

GO FIU!!!

FIUBlueandGold,

This is the season that FIU is hosting the NCAA's at the AAA in March, tickets are on sale at fiusports.com or ncaasports.com

I also think everything starts at the Top. With Pete leading the way as our proud A.D. we have seen many changes in the coaching staff as well as in the way our athletic department does things. We are starting to see the "Swagger" that FIU has been missing for a couple of years.
As for the change out of the Sunbelt, I don't see that happening for at least 5 years. Then I can probably see us in the USA Conference. I think the Big East would be to much to early..

My question to everyone is:
What conference would you like to see FIU compete in?
a) Stay in the sunbelt.
b) USA
c) Big East
d) other

Remember not to think just football. As much as I love FIU Football, you need to think about how the other sports will do if you vote for another conference..

I hope to see everyone at the Big Game on Thursday!!

Go FIU!!!

I would love to see us in the Big East, I really don't think it's that much of a stretch for football, but for basketball it could definetly be a much different story...

I'd say Big East, even though we dwarf alot of schools in that conference. Our basketball program needs a major overhaul before that happens.

Big East!!!

That conference would love to stick it to UM by dropping another BCS team in their backyard

Guys,

Did anyone read Pete's article in the Herald about our baseball team having the nation's 16th best recruiting class, ahead of UM's class which was ranked 19th?!

In just his second season, the turtle has out recruited his cross town rival Jimbo.

Lets see how this translates into wins next season.

Regarding the conference, I would rather own the SBC than play in C-USA. Unfortunately BEast is basketball heavy, and our bball team is nowhere near BEast conference play. Additionally, our facilities need some revamping as well. Lets dominate Sun Belt, and take it from there. Its nice to dream about Big East play I know, but we still have lots of work to do in the 'Belt.

great comback win from the Boys BBall team... Pete you have any updates on how this past weekends recruiting visits went?

Build on the lines, defensive and offensive, the rest will fall into place.

Roderic Blunt has won me over, could be a great fit for us at MLB. Has all the measurables except with avg. speed. Is Winston Fraser going to play at OLB or in the inside ??

I hear that Pooh Bear may have issues qualifying ?? Can anyone confirm this ?

Dillard, Russell, Williams and Blunt give us some really nice depth at LB for the next 4 years. Scout has Blunt rated a 3 star prospect.

I hope we sign Blunt, make it happen MARIO !!!

4.5 speed is pretty fast specially for a 6-2 220 LB

FIUBlueandGold: The record you saw was indeed because of sanctions from the NCAA. When they sanction teams, they usually take away wins in the process, and that's what goes into the record books officially. I want to say that the '06 team had around 10 wins... can't remember, exactly. I'm no hoops expert. I'm just a guy who thinks they need to see more exposure at FIU.

If there is to be a coaches' show, it probably won't be year-round. That's not how it works, even for most of the big programs. The radio station I work for in Winston-Salem is part of the NC State network, and they only do coaches' shows during the season. That's usually how it's done.

With that said, I'm sure it'll happen sooner or later at FIU. MC has personality, so he'd be a better fit than most coaches for a show. You just gotta find a station that'll commit to FIU sports... and, for the record, it might not cost as much as you think. Many stations actually pay for the rights to have coaches' shows. Now that the MZM contract is up, now would be a good time for PG to go shopping and see what he can find. I imagine they're looking into that.

As for the conference... there's nothing wrong with the SBC for now. FIU needs better basketball facilities to move up and better crowds overall. Let's get better there and worry about conference moves later. For what it's worth, though, I suspect that, if FIU leaves the SBC in the future, it'll be for either C-USA or the Big East. Probably C-USA, since men's soccer is already there, but I'd prefer Big East.

man it has gotten really slow the last couple of days? anything new goin on?

i dont think a move to the big east is possible.. i mean in basketball they have a FULL conference... which would make the move to the big east incredibly difficult... and Conf. USA unless dropping someone already has i think 12 team conf. in football.. so unless the conf. re-align i think the improvement of the sunbelt should really be the main priority.

Pete P.,

The FIU Football blog machine is hungry. Feed us!

Canes fans are going "bananas" over on Manny's BLOG. Sorry, Pete...don't mean to drive traffic over there. But if you guys want to see how out of touch these people are, just read the comments in reference to the Bill Young rumors.

Word is that OSU has offer him the HC position and big time $$. If he leaves, this is BAD for Miami's supposed rise to GLORY again...

IMHO, Shannon was the not right hire at the time. But politics and Cokers recruiting free fall forced Shalala to pull the trigger on Randy.

Let's go G Panthers!

I hope we have another exciting season this year. Let's take the Sunbelt this year!

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