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18 posts from January 2009

January 31, 2009

FIU Goes To Mars

Pooh T-Minus 3 days for FIU to land on Mars. That would be Larvez "Pooh Bear" Mars Mars, one of the best high school linebackers on Earth and from Apopka, who recently earned All-State 1st team honors.

Had a chance to reach Mars on Saturday and without the aid ofEarth any rocket ship, instead a handy-dandy cell phone did the trick. (OK, no more Mars the planet references, after all LM prefers the "Pooh Bear" nickname as you will find out when you read on).

After talking to the linebacker, told Pooh Bear he can check out his interview on the GPP.

PP: Should you choose FIU on Wednesday, do you know that you would be the 1st 4-star recruit at FIU and that's including former FIU linebacker Antwan Barnes, who now plays for the Baltimore Ravens. What do you think of that?

LM: That would mean a lot to me. I could be the face of the FIU program and I would carry that weight. I like being able to the carry the weight for a team. I've never been afraid of that. At Apopka, I was the face Lar of our defense there and I enjoyed that. It got to a point at Apopka that other teams would run the ball away from me, because they knew I would bring them down if they ran it at me.

* Here is the Mars highlight tape, in case you didn't know how good a defender the kid is:  Pooh Bear Knows Tackles  

PP: Tell me about your visit to FIU two weeks ago?

LM: The campus is great. The coaches are great and they have some strong academic programs. I want to major in business and real estate, because I like making money. [FIU defensive back and former Apopka teammate] Derrick Clark told me FIU is really great and he likes it a lot, especially because it's not too far from home. My mom went on the visit and she wanted me to commit to FIU right there on the spot. I fell in love with FIU right there. Everything you need is right there on campus.

PP: So what happened that you didn't commit on the spot?

LM: I wanted to take my time to think about things. I'm the type of person that really likes to go Indiana and experience stuff and seeks out new adventures. I'm going to decide at Apopka on the day before signing day or on signing day.

PP: You've narrowed down your choices to FIU and Iowa State. What was it about Iowa State that you liked?

LM: Iowa State was pretty much the same as FIU. I felt at home in both places. Iowa State is on point about their academic plans.

PP: FIU has a pretty good business school. Were they on point about their academic plans when you visited?

LM: Oh, yeah. FIU has some strong academic plans they presented when I visited.

PP: What did you think of the new FIU stadium and the new FIU fieldhouse on your visit?

LM: I really liked the stadium. When it gets all done it will be the perfect size for college football. TheWeights weight room is pretty big, like NFL-size and that's what I like.

PP: Where did you get the nickname "Pooh Bear"?

LM: My mom gave it to me when I was little, because when I would roll over my shirt would roll up on my stomach and I looked like Winnie The Pooh.

Martian PP: Has anybody ever given you a nickname, because of your last name being the same as a planet?

LM: Not really. They've called me a Martian before, but I just stick with Pooh Bear. That's the nickname I like.Poooh



 

 

Logo  PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw Thanks to Pooh Bear for joining us on the GPP. We have a Pooh Bear question for you good people to answer below the Pawse.

gpantera: When the fudge does spring ball kick off already?!  Pete, When you talk to your Herald internet folks, ask them to add a "Share on Facebook" button on your blog so that we can extend the exposure of this blog to our community of friends and family.

PP: The first spring practice is scheduled for Friday, March 6. Good idea on the facebook deal, will let the MH IT people know about it.

Apaw The passionate FIU fans and alumni in the northeastern part of the U.S. are making their votes heard loud and clear on our last poll question about FIU and Rutgers beginning a football series this September. We had 80 first-day votes from there and we had a new state join the GPP Nation.

An FIU fan in Stamford, Connecticut voted that he/she would have wanted a better opponent than Conn Rutgers to replace the Tampa Bulls on the FIU sked. However, that vote selection is in the minority. As of Saturday afternoon, 73.8% of you good people think it is great FIU will be playing in the NY/NJ area against Rutgers; 17.5% of you have no opinion on the matter and 8.8% of you want a better opponent than RU.

Regardless, welcome to Connecticut, the 5th state of the U.S. and now leaving only 8 states in which the GPP is not read in:

Globe GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 42 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, CT, DEL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MO, NEB, NEV, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

27 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.

Tell us what you think about the possible addition of Pooh Bear to the 2009 FIU signing class:


January 30, 2009

Playing USF in 2009....Fuggedaboutit

Fiuhelmet Get ready to scratch off the USF/Tampa Bulls from the 2009 FIU schedule Rutgers this upcoming season. Your Panthers are in negotiations with Rutgers to schedule a home-and-home series with the Scarlet Knights beginning this coming September with a game in the Tony Soprano land of New Jersey. FIU would play at Rutgers in the third game of this coming season replacing the Bulls on the sked.

Rutgers then would be FIU's season opening opponent on September 11, 2010 at FIU Stadium. It would be MC vs. his former boss Greg Schiano. This series could become a 4-game set with 2 home games for each team. Stay tuned on that. Right now it is a 1-home-and-1-home game deal.

Nice deal for FIU, because of the ton of FIU alumni in the New York/New Jersey area and USF Nb supposedly was only offering $200,000 for FIU to drive up to Tampa this coming September.

Plus, USF has said they no longer want to play any Florida school that is not Florida, Florida State or um. The Bulls dropped the series with Central Florida and now FIU is getting ready to drop USF.

Will have more on this scheduling change as the story develops in the coming days.

After making some phone calls today here are some recruiting updates for you starving GPPers:

Gppaw Down to 2 schools for Larvez Mars and heard that all of Mars's family wants the linebacker to stay Pooh in Florida and play for FIU. The Mars family says the honey is sweeter in Miami than Ames, Iowa for Pooh Bear.

Gppaw Quavon Taylor (below, left) is interested in returning back to Miami and playing for FIU. We could see the former Northwestern star joining former Bulls/current FIUers: Quavont Anthony Gaitor, Kenny Dillard and Wayne Times this fall, although he would probably have to sit out a season, because of NCAA transfer rules. Nothing official yet on Q becoming a Panther but it looks like it.

Gppaw Doesn't look like Daquan Hargrett is going to change his mind from West Virginia to FIU. But one season in Morgantown where the highlight of the area is visiting the Henry Clay Iron Furnace, might be enough to have anyone longing for home, especially with WVU bringing in those 2 big running backs ahead of DH. Like new FIU defensive back Terrance Taylor said the other day: "This is a new and improved FIU". And a lot of these recruits that leave for what may be greener pastures eventually find their way home.

Logo  PANTHER PAWSE

FIUBlueandGold: Have you heard where they project to use McGee at ?

PP: Looking like a DB.

pikedanny: Pete: Are they any plans to spruce up the Baseball Stadium a little bit?

PP: Turtle is working on getting it done.

So what do you think of the possible FIU/Rutgers football series?

January 28, 2009

Around The Field With Turtle

Nothing new to tell you about FIU football recruiting on this hump day, so let's go back to the diamond Tt with FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas (right) and take a look at the Panthers on the field 23 days before Opening Night against Jacksonville.

PP: How does the infield shape up going into this month of practice before the season starts?

TT: Steven Stropp is behind the plate. Tim Jobe from Indian River CC, has an unbelievable amount of power. He’s by far our most powerful hitter that we got. We just have to get the consistency of his stroke Mollica day in, day out to where it kind of needs to be. Jobe is a 1b/DH and he’s a right-handed pitcher with the best curveball on the team. He’s had a little iffy elbow deal so we just have to make sure he’s OK.

Ryan Mollica (left, Alex J. Hernandez photo) returns at second base. Garrett Wittels from Krop High could be at shortstop/third base. He did a real nice job there in the fall. He is more advanced than a lot of freshmen are. Junior Arrojo could also see some time at shortstop.

Raiko Alfonso from Key West has done a nice job for us at third base. Raiko being a switch-hitter is a nice thing to have. He’s got to keep working on defending, on his range, a little more consistency with his hands, but he’s coming along pretty good.

PP: What about the outfield how does that look and can we expect more speed there than last season?

TT: Pablo Bermudez (right) will definitely be our leadoff guy and starting centerfielder as long as he’s healthy. He is definitely far advanced for most freshmen, a very talented young man.

The team speed is definitely better. We got some guys like Michael Vargas from New Jersey, who Bermudez played at the national high school champ at Don Bosco Prep (33-0). Vargas is definitely a speedy guy. Bermudez is a runner. We got a couple of guys like that.

You may not realize this, but Junior Arrojo led the Valley League this summer in stolen bases. He has as good a first step in stealing a bag as any Major Leaguer would have. He has a perfect technique. He just has to get the consistency of getting on base where he has that opportunity to steal.

Vargas played 2b in high school, but Ryan Mollica is in that spot so Vargas is going to get some playing time in left field. He’s a speedy guy. You put him and Pablo out there in the outfield and you have a chance to run down a few fly balls that hopefully won’t fall in.

We put Tyler Townsend mostly all fall in right field and he’s taken to it pretty good. It’s either a corner outfield spot or first base for him.

Gppaw

We'll wrap up our preseason talk with Turtle on the next post where he'll tell us what the batting lineup looks like going into the season.

Gppaw

Always open to suggestions for poll questions, so here we go with FIUBlueandGold's question:

January 26, 2009

Back On The Recruiting Prowl

We're down to 9 days and counting until National Signing Day and it looks like your Panthers have picked up a couple more commitments.

Tottle Osceola High offensive lineman Austin Tottle, all 6-4 and 315 pounds of him, is headed toward FIU.

So is North Dakota State defensive back Jarrell McGee, who runs a 4.4, 40 and is 5-10, 200 pounds. McGee, who is from Cocoa, Florida, has a pretty good highlight video and you can check it out here: Best Of Jarrell McGee

Was working on an FIU recruiting story for Tuesday's paper on Monday. You can check it out at miamiherald.com.

Some other nuggets discovered on the recruiting prowl on Monday: FIU is still in the hunt for linebacker Larvez Mars (right), who apparently will qualify academically to play Division I football this season, and is Mars narrowing down his choices to FIU and Iowa State.

Linebacker Roderic Blunt is about set to commit to Middle Tennessee, because of ties with Blue Raiders coach Rick Stockstill and former high school teammate Emmanuel Perez.

Looks like the final NMB 2: Nico Flores and Kehmal Ishmael are going to be a package deal for either Western Michigan or Central Florida.

Dharg And don't count out FIU with either NW running back Daquan Hargrett (left) and Archbishop Carroll defensive back Corey Ammons.

January 25, 2009

Talking Pitching and Catching with Turtle

FIU baseball's Opening Day is less than a month away, 26 days if you're scoring at home, when theTt    Panthers host Jacksonville for a 3-game series to begin the 2009 season.

So here's the first of a three-part interview series with FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas (FIU photos, Alex J. Hernandez) about the upcoming season.

PP: How did fall ball go?

TTWe basically have 6 guys back that played as a position player or a pitcher for a significant amount of time last year. Those 6 are: Tyler Townsend, Ryan Mollica, Steven Stropp, Jorge Marban, Corey Polizzano and Danny DeSimone and Javi Sujo played some. He had like 82 at-bats. We have a lot of new pieces of the puzzle to the team. It was a lot of teaching and developing, a lot of starting to understand college baseball. They’re young and enthusiastic and they seem to learn pretty quick. There certainly is some talent out there on the baseball field. We just got to find the right lineup, the right positions for a couple of guys still battling at a couple of spots.

PP: Who are some of the pitchers that stood out during the fall?

Rem TT: Scott Rembisz (left) from Manatee junior college looks to be right now the Friday night starter. He was the Florida Junior College Pitcher of the Year with a 13-2 record last year. He’s a very good competitor. He’s not scared to throw inside, nice breaking ball. He beats the hitters, because he out competes them.

Tom Ebert, from Iowa Western, the year before at the JUCO World Series hurt his arm and had Tommy John so he really didn’t start pitching until later in the season last year. He is really good. I would think right now he could either be our closer or the Friday, Saturday or Sunday starter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    

R.J. Fondon, the left-hander from Flanagan High in Pembroke Pines, made some good impressions on us in the fall and should be one of our 4 or 5 top starters. We didn't really have any lefties last season. We’ve got 4 lefties now. Fondon, Justin Leith (Naples and St. Louis Cardinals draft pick), Corey Polizzano, Mason McVay (Killian) and even Ty Main, an outfielder, can throw a few innings.

                                                                                                                                                    

PP: With Ebert, possibly being the closer right now 1 month before the season starts, what kind of roleMarb do you envision for last year's closer Jorge Marban?

                                                                                                                                                      

TT: I’m thinking he’s either the closer or set-up guy either one or the other. He’s going to continue to come out of the bullpen. He grew up a lot last year. Going into the 2007 fall, he was kind of a name on the roster that was going to battle, develop and fight for a spot and low and behold he came through and did a nice job for us.

                                                                                                                                                     

PP: What does the catching situation look like?

                                                                                                                                                    

Stropp TT: Steven Stropp is our starter. There are 3 other catchers we got. We got Doug Joyce from Stanwood, Washington. About an hour south of Canada . He was the 41st round pick of the Kansas City Royals. We got Casey Hanrahan from St. John’s River junior college, who was 10th in the state in hitting last year. Sean Reilly is from just outside Boston. They are all battling for that number two slot right now. I don’t know that anybody is really forged ahead of the other two at this point.

                                                                                                                                                      

PP: Can any of these catchers possibly play other positions?

                                                                                                                                                      

TTNot really, they are mainly catchers. Joyce, being a tall 6-3, could probably play a little first base and Stropp plays first base. All the catchers bats are developing, getting better and still figuring out the college game a little bit and 3-2 breaking balls and 3-2 change-ups. They’re still figuring out the college approach to pitching and have to become better at hitting different parts of the strike zone at different speeds and different types of pitches.

 

Apaw

We'll take a look at the position players on the next post.

 

January 23, 2009

Not Half Bad

Ultimate FIU Fan, don't call Linda Blair just yet. FIU hoops got one very key player back on Thursday, but lost another very key player, but should have another very key player back on Saturday. So hold off on the injury exorcism.

Point guard Josue Soto (right, thanks to Alex J. Hernandez for photo) made his FIU debut and looked pretty smooth with the ball in his hands. To answer FIUPantherFan's question: center Soto Freddy Asprilla (left) missed the game with back spasms and will miss Saturday's game at Louisiana-Monroe.

Freddy FA did not make the trip to Monroe, but could be back for next Thursday's game at New Orleans. Russell Hicks (below, left, AJH photo) has been cleared for Saturday's game and did make the trip to Monroe. Not sure how much RH will play, because he has not practiced all week, but his 7-foot presence should be in there on Saturday.

We saw 2 sides of the FIU hoops team in Thursday's loss to North Texas.

During a 14-0 FIU run in the first half that gave the Panthers a 23-13 lead, FIU was in sync with Tremayne Russell and Alex Galindo knocking down shots. FIU also played some pretty good D with Galindo getting Hicks a block, and Nick Taylor and Russell getting steals.

Although Soto did not get in on the run, we got a good look at what the sophomore can do such as put some pretty good ball fakes on the Mean Green and go aggressively to the hoop and draw fouls. And JS can make free throws too going 4 for 4.

However, if FIU could, it would hit the reset button on that 2nd half getting outscored 24-8 in the paint and 40-24 overall in the paint.

Yes, missing 6-10 FA and 7-0 RH did not help, but North Texas didn't have anyone taller than 6-7 in the game. It was just a case of the Mean Green outhustling the Panthers to the rebounds and getting second-chance points. North Texas forward Eric Tramiel, a JUCO All-American transfer, had career-highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds. ET had only 5 points and 4 rebounds at halftime. 

Still, we're starting to see some signs with the Panthers hoopsters that once all are healthy (hand hit wood here) they might have a run in them come Sun Belt tourney time.

LogoPANTHER PAWSE

Gppaw Congratulations to FIU's 3-time All-American Yarimar Rosa, (right, AJH photo) who received a plaqueRosa from the NCAA commemorating her leading the nation in kills per set and total kills this season.

Gppaw

Don't normally bring up other teams on here, but how about the Mike Jarvis show last night in Boca Raton. The Florida Atlantic coach gets hit with 4 straight technical fouls and causes his team go down by 7 after ULM makes 7 of 8 technical foul shots. After the 4th technical, the refs ask for the police to escort Jarvis off the court. MJ, just kick a sign next time. FAU suspended Jarvis for 1 Att game today and the Owls are still winless in Sun Belt play at 0-8.

Gppaw

Finished the Turtle preseason interview yesterday, after I go through the nearly 30 minutes of tape of TT, I will post his thoughts on here.

Questions:

fiu4ever: Hey Pete(or anyone in general), Will there be any open practices to the public when they start the offseason? Do you see the FIU soccer teams playing in the stadium eventually?

PP: I'm sure there will be some spring practices open. Once I know which ones, I'll post them on here. Might be tough to see FIU soccer play in the stadium, because of the football regular season schedule and football practices.

JM: hey pete, do you know if the sun belt distributes all their bowl revenues evenly between teams? or if the teams that make the bowl games get to keep all the money?

PP: Teams that make bowl games keep all their cash.

Gppaw

Not much football recruiting news to pass along today, but here's a question to answer as we are 12 days from National Signing Day:


January 21, 2009

Darian Mallary: Coach Wants Me To Race T.Y.

Back to the recruiting trail after our lively debate on to be or not to be Panthers.C11 gulliver SPTS ADD

Gulliver running back Darian Mallary envisions himself playing a similar role in the FIU offense that he played this year in leading the Raiders to the state championship game. That role being running and catching the ball out of the backfield and maybe even a little WildPanther. DM led the county in Class 3A-1A rushing this past season with 1,796 and accounted for 17 TDS (15 rushing, 2 receiving). And with his serious wheels, DM might give T.Y. Goodbye a run for fastest Panther come August....

PP: Heard you were pretty fast. How fast are you?

DM: 4.3 in the 40. FIU really likes my speed. Coach Cristobal told me he wants to see me race T.Y. when I get into camp.

PP: You had a long list of schools (Iowa, Ole Miss, Rutgers, UM, Central Florida, Indiana, Troy) interested in you. What made you choose FIU?

DM: Every player down here already knows, if not, they are learning that FIU is an up and coming program. It's not a secret anymore. What FIU is doing and what they did last year really impressed me. They were 1 game from a bowl game last season.

Jw PP: How was your visit to FIU?

DMJarvis Wilson (left) was my host and he was the best. I recommed to any recruit to ask for Jarvis on their visit. The campus is beautiful. The school library is huge. I saw the stadium and drawings of the weight room, locker rooms and we also got a view from the top of the stadium and saw all of Miami from there. There are no flaws with FIU.

PP: You ever play in the spread offense like FIU runs? 

DM: We had something similar at Gulliver and that was another reason I chose FIU, because I like playing in that type of offense where you can make plays. Hopefully, I get some snaps out of the Wildcat, because I have a strong arm and can throw the ball. Dolphins Brown Football MAW  

PP: You grew up playing football with T.Y.?

DM: Yeah, we played and so did Kambriel Willis on the same Pop Warner All-American team that played in a tournament in Cancun, Mexico. We beat like 5 different nations from around the world to come in first place in that tournament. Another reason I chose FIU is because of T.Y. and I saw that he played his freshman season. There are opportunities for freshmen to play at FIU in their first year.

PP: Kenny Dillard really liked the banners on the side of the stadium with T.Y. and Anthony Gaitor. What are your thoughts on those?

DM: I want me one of those and so does my mom. She wants to drive up to the stadium and see my poster hanging on the side of the stadium. But Coach Cristobal said he wants me to earn it. I'm ready to go. I'll be there watching spring practice.

Logo  PANTHER PAWSE

Jsuarez88: Pete, couple things...Any news/updates on Larvez Mars? On his visit to FIU? His top 2-3 choices? Do we still stand a chance? Rocky Vann said he runs a 4.32?! Is there any way you can confirm? Thats TY Fast.

PP: Haven't heard anything new on LM and agree with you that he would be a tremendous addition to the FIU D, but I did hear he may not qualify. I'll see about RV's time, but maybe we should line up TY, RVAol   and DM on the first day of camp and watch 'em go.

Gazi: Pete, Any news on C. Mack?

PP: Nothing new, but will check on it. Maybe esteban688 (a.k.a Mack's Ari Gold can chime in).

2006PA: Pete... Have you heard anything about changing the logo on the FIU license plate?

PP: Last I heard the new license plates could be out toward the latter part of this year or by 2010.

Sb fiu4ever: Hey Pete, Any news on the MLS front?

PP: MLS is expected to make an announcement at some point the week after the Super Bowl, which would be after Feb. 1.

Pantera Dorada: Pete, can you confirm the band rumor?

PP: Been told the band is NOT going anywhere. Band

Gppaw

But the latest poll question is moving right along with currently 62.1% of you saying it's time for the FIU Panthers and 37.9% of you say keep the FIU Golden Panthers. Poll is still open, keep on voting.

Gppaw

We've heard from several recruits what they think is the best selling point about FIU. What do you think it is?

 

January 20, 2009

Golden Panthers Or Panthers

Lately, it's been quiet on the recruiting front as we approach the 2-week countdown until National Signing Day. On Wednesday, it will be 14 days before you learn who are the newest FIU footballers. Still several talented players out there who have not decided where they will play at the college level.

Js The FIU basketball team is getting ready for their game against North Texas on Thursday at The Bank and we may or may not see the return of point guard Josue Soto (left) on Thursday, if not Saturday. JS is that close to returning to the hardwood.

Meeting with the Turtle on Thursday and will have his thoughts on the upcoming FIU baseball season shortly thereafter on the GPP.

So that leaves us with a question that has been bandied about ever since FIU went to solely using FIU as the first name for all its athletic teams and that question is should FIU just be the FIU Panthers or should it stick to FIU Golden Panthers?

The thought here is it's time to move the Golden to the background and just go by FIU Panthers. It's quicker, easier to say and with the new logo unveiled last year and the whole new branding of FIU Logo athletics it makes sense.

And part of this new branding is bringing the concept of winning to the forefront, which was not a regular occurrence around FIU for some time before the change in athletic administration a little more than 2 years ago.

Unlike going by solely FIU, the university has not made an official announcement on dropping the "Golden" from the nickname.

Some traditionalists probably are not in favor of going without the Golden, but part of the reason Golden came about was because Huizenga, then-owner of the local hockey team, complained about having another Panthers team in town and to a lesser extent Florida Tech in Melbourne also didn't like having another Florida school with Panthers as a nickname. So what? No hockey team or central Florida school should dictate what FIU can call itself.  

As FIU's football coach would say "FIU is building a monster". And that monster's mascot is a Panther.

Logo

PANTHER PAWSE

Gppaw Like to hear what you think, post your thoughts on this blog and vote at the bottom of the Pawse.

Gppaw

Plenty of interest in our last poll question about future conferences for FIU. Yes, the question was meant for some time down the road, but so far 80.4% of you say go Big East. 10.9% say C-USA and 6.5% say stay in the Sun Belt.

Gppaw

We also had a new state visit the GPP, when a reader from Georgetown, Delaware voted for a move to the Big East. We now have 41 states on the GPP map with 9 still to go. Here's the rest of the scorecard:

Globe GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 41 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, DEL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MO, NEB, NEV, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

27 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.


 

January 19, 2009

Kenny Dillard: My Name On The Side Of The Stadium

The FIU hoops team is on a nice little run having won 3 of its last 4 games with North Texas visiting The Bank on Thursday. The Golden Panthers are aiming for a top 8 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament, because the SBC's Nos. 4-8 teams would host a first round tournament game.

Should FIU have a scorching finish to the season and end up one of the SBC's top 3 teams, it would get Kd a first round bye and not play until the second round in Arkansas.

Hoops is doing well now and so is FIU football recruiting. Had a chance to talk with future Panther linebacker Kenny Dillard (middle No. 44 forcing a fumble) the other day and the current Northwestern linebacker had plenty to say....

GPP: So what did you know about FIU before committing and what did you like about the school and program?

KD: I watched some of the Panthers games last season and no matter whether they were up or down what I noticed was that they were always fired up to play football. They played good football especially after not having a good season the year before. FIU is a nice school, big school. The coaches know what they are doing and they're easy to talk to. The stadium is great. I played my high school playoff games there. It can get loud there.

GPP: When did FIU offer you a scholarship? 

KD: It was right after the Central game in which I had 13 tackles. I think that was the game that got me a scholarship to FIU. We had lost to Central earlier in the season and this time the rematch was a playoff game at FIU. The Central players were talking a lot of trash. I was fired up before the game, but the trash talking fired me up even more. I like it when the other team talks trash.

GPP: Are you a talker on the field?

KD: Yeah, I talk, but I bring it on every play just like the rest of my teammates. We held 2 of the best running backs in the county to less than 100 yards this year. Lamar Miller of Killian got like 50 yards on us in the first half, but our defense said he wasn't going to get any more in the second half and we held Ag him to 76 total yards. Same goes with Jakahri Gore of Columbus he got 43 yards in the first half against us and he only got 10 yards in the second half.

GPP: Besides opponents talking trash, what else motivates you?

KD: You know what I liked the most when I went to FIU is seeing Gaitor (left) and T.Y.'s banners hanging from the side of FIU Stadium. I would like to see my name and picture on one of those banners on the side of FIU Tywk Stadium right next to Gaitor and T.Y. (right) That motivates me and that should motivate every player that becomes a Panther.

GPP: Can the experience of all that winning at Northwestern help you at FIU?

KD: Winning championships taught me a lot at Northwestern. It taught me how hard it is to win one and I want to bring that same winning attitude and work ethic to FIU.

GPP: You know FIU already has the Booker T. 4 in Jonathan Jackson, Kambriel Willis, Franklin Brown and Winston Fraser. FIU could have the Northwestern 4 in Anthony Gaitor, yourself, Wayne Times and Daquan Hargrett if he joins you guys at FIU. These 8 players would make for a pretty good pick-up football game in a sandlot somewhere. Who would win?

KD: We beat Booker T. earlier this year 31-29 and we would have blown them out 38-0 if it was the 5th or 6th game of the season. So we'd probably do the same if we played 4 on 4.

LogoGOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

blkpanther: 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.

GPP: Sure will see if Rod Moore wants to visit the GPP and talk weight room.

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

GPP: Missed that one UFF, here's your Linda Blair (right). In 2006-07, FIU hoops was 12-17 and a solid 9-4 atLbex Lb home.

Quijote: 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?!

GPP: Actually, it was FIU No. 15 and across town was No. 17. Will have TT on the GPP next week.

CJ: Pete you have any updates on how this past weekends recruiting visits went?

GPP: I've left messages with the recruits and their high school coaches and I'm waiting to hear back.

Apaw

Although FIU is some time away from making a move to another conference, Gooch7 posed an interesting question in the last blog regarding the future conference for your Panthers. The thought here is that the ideal move for FIU would be to the Big East.

But FIU would first need to win some Sun Belt championships in several sports and draw consistenly solid crowds to make a case for such a move. Because of FIU being situated in Miami, it would not surprise to see FIU football and baseball get to BE levels the quickest of the 3 major sports. With the BE being such a traditional hoops conference, it might be the most difficult for the hoops teams. The volleyball and tennis programs are on their way.

Keeping in mind this will take some time, what are your thoughts about this:

 

January 16, 2009

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.

      

January 14, 2009

Easing The DSB

Nothing new on the recruiting front today, so GPP Nation catch your breath.

Rb_2 However, there should be some action in the coming days with key recruit visits on Friday, among them 3 from NMB (Nico, Kemal and Jon Cyprien). Also 2 big LBs in Pooh Bear Mars and Roderic Blunt, who from watching him play in person several times at Everglades High in Miramar, I can tell you Blunt is a hell of a defender and would make a tremendous addition to the FIU D.

So with the recruiting waters calm on this hump day, let's talk a little about the FIU/FAU hoops game on Thursday night out in the Mouth of the Rat (Boca Raton for our Spanish-speaking friends). After all, we're reader-friendly here on the GPP so why not appease our hoops fans on the GPP. By the way here's a Freddy Asprilla story in today's MH as a hoops appetizer: Freddy's Ready

Can an FIU win on Thursday take away the sting of the 2008 Don Shula Bowl [gosh darn it :) Clawing Cancer, here we go back to football on a hoops post, go figure?], probably not for some, but it Dp sure would be a step in the right direction for the Golden Panthers. Glad to see CC has bought into the GPP's Gatorade Recruiting Theory.

There was some good out of the 2008 DSB, such as the stellar debut of Darriet Perry (right, can't get enough of DP dragging 3 Owls on his back for 13 yards?)

Almost turned my train of thought there to football for a second. Oh, yeah, we were on FIU hoops.

FIU hoops can sweep FAU again in the regular season this year. The Owls have been without their best player Carlos Monroe all season and are having a little tougher season than the Panthers. Of course, the regular season may matter little, except for home court in the 1st round of the Sun Belt tourney, because these 2 teams are likely to meet again in the opening round. And we know what happened last year when FAU smoked FIU in the SBC tourney.

Still, FIU is getting healthier as SR told me the other day that Russell Hicks (broken foot) may now be the next hoopster back at the end of the month, even before J.C. Otero (knee). Josue Soto (thumb) still Fa remains out until late Feb., early March.

What has helped the Panthers, even in their narrow losses at Troy and Middle Tennessee has been the emergence of 6-10 freshman center Freddy Asprilla, (left) who has slimmed down from 296 and bulked up. If you've seen FA play in person, then you know how he can dominate in the paint. 28 points and 10 boards vs. the Sun Belt's best in MT and 21 and 7 against WK -- a Sweet 16 team from last season are no flukes.

With opponents needing 2 and sometimes 3 guys to defend FA, there are several Panthers open all over the floor. That's where Alex Galindo and Tremayne Russell (right) returns along with the sharp shooting of Tr_2 Michael Dominguez has helped FIU.

Will FIU be big dancing come March, probably not, but have to agree with CC and say the Panther hoopsters have become more interesting to watch with their 6-10 big body anchoring the paint.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw We'll get back to the meat and potatoes of the GPP on the next blog. Finished interviews with new LB Kenny Dillard and new QB Wesley Carroll and will have those up soon and will finish the recruiting prowl with the OL.

FIUJM: Pete, I know you will ask TT some questions regarding the upcoming baseball season. Do you know when that will happen? I'm ready for baseball season.

GPP: Will be meeting with TT at some point next week and will have the latest from FIU baseball shortly thereafter before NSD.

Jsuarez88: Doesnt Nico's coach want him to go to Western? Isn't he the guy thats been trying to make him become a Bronco?

GPP: Yes, NMB has some ties to Western Michigan, but I got a feeling -- and this is just a hunch -- Nico is between FIU and Central Florida. Again, just a guess. I've called Nico the past few days, but his cell Cell phone has been out of service for most of this week and this was before the commit mistake appeared on rivals.

thechampionunderdog: Pete, speaking of NMB recruits...... do we know what the deal is with mike dominguez?

GPP: MC told me that Dominguez along with Devin Parrish and Marcelus Manear are no longer on the team. He would not go into specifics, but they are no longer Panthers.

blkpanther: Pete, what effect of the recruiting limit does enrolling early have?

GPP: Carroll, Starling and Griffin all count toward this year's class.

saint, Alonzo: Welcome to the GPP.

Apaw_2 We all know football is king around FIU and on the GPP. Every time I write a football blog, the GPP gets more hits than any other FIU sports blog and it also helps explain why a blog about a program that hasn't really won much before is consistently in the top 10 of the MH's 48 blogs. You good people are passionate about your FIU. So thank you.

So with that in mind here's Wednesday's poll question:

January 13, 2009

No Nico....Yet

Reading the excitement on the GPP over North Miami Beach QB Nico Flores, I went ahead and called Nmb North Miami Beach coach Jeff Bertani to see if NF commited to FIU today and......he has not....yet. The rivals report is incorrect.

Coach Bertani said Flores and NMB defensive back Kemal Ishmael will visit FIU on Jan. 16 and either that day or shortly after both will announce what schools they will attend. Should they say they want to become Panthers, NF (left) and KI (right) would make 4 NMBers at FIU along with Markeith Russell (middle of photo) and Jonathan Cyprien.

Bertani said NF is down to FIU, Western Michigan and Central Florida. Florida State initially showed interest in NF, but has cooled off.

KI is down to FIU, Western Michigan, West Virginia and Central Florida.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

CJ: Pete i got an idea for the GPP. have an interview session w/ a few FIU commits after NSD. (preferably the ones that chose FIU over other major programs) what do ya think?

GPP: Good idea. We did it last year with the new Panthers and we'll do it again this year.

Gooch7 & FIUFP&L: I'm starting to lose track of all the recruits that have verbally committed. Pete, would you be able to make a list of names that you think are close to putting the ink on the dotted line?

GPP: No problem. Will have the list after we get through the last of our recruiting series -- the OL. For Bama_2 now, you can check out the list over at fiugoldenpanthers.com.

class09: How many tickets will be available to students for the Alabama, South-Florida, and Florida games?

GPP: Will find out, but usually it's about 3,000 for the visiting team, although for consistently sold out Ts venues like Bama (above, right) and The Swamp, there might be less tickets available.

FIU_Fiji_Falcon: Why is there a Rutgers Football billboard on the I-95 in Ft. Lauderdale? Is that referring to the school in NJ??

GPP: Rutgers has done that for the past several recruiting seasons. They used to have Tony Soprano on the ad as well. Apparently, it doesn't have the effect it used to -- just ask FIU commit Terrance Taylor -- a Rutgers de-commit.

Gppaw Again, nothing like a football poll question to stoke the fires of GPP Nation. We reached all the way out to Dubai, United Arab Emirates with our last question regarding what grade FIU's 2009 recruiting class would receive right now. Our friend in Dubai said an "A". We also reached the plains of Okla_4 Oklahoma with our last question and our new reader there is not too happy about FIU's recruiting class.  Our new Oklahoma friend handed out an "F" for FIU's 2009 class. What an ugly grade from Oklahoma.

Globe_2 GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 40 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MO, NEB, NEV, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

27 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.

It hasn't happened yet, but what kind of an impact would FIU getting Flores and Ishmael from NMB make on this recruiting class?

January 12, 2009

Two More For The Defense

Ttaylor The FIU D landed 2 more commits with DB/S Terrance Taylor (Archbishop Carroll) and DE Joshua Forney (South Holland Marian Catholic) saying they want to be Golden Panthers. These are the commits, gpantera asked about.

Taylor, who was a former Rutgers commit, had 93 tackles last season with 3 INTs and forced and recovered 3 fumbles on his way to being named 1st team All-Dade. At 6-0, 183, TT has good size for a DB and even for a safety.

Forney is a 6-2, 237-pound rusher at DE. Along with earlier commit Thatcher Starling, JF gives FIU a pair of bookend rushers with some size.

The TT commit gives FIU 5 DBs in this year's class, which playing in the spread-heavy Sun Belt you can never have enough DBs.

The JF commit gives FIU 4 DE/DL in this year's class and as we saw last season by the lack of pass rush, the Golden Panthers could use as many DE/DL they can get their hands on.

We'll wrap up the FIU Recruiting Prowl on the next post with a look at the offensive line. Still have 23 days until National Signing Day, but give the 2009 FIU recruiting class a grade so far below the Pawse.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw_3 Congrats to FIU center Freddy Asprilla for being named the Sun Belt Player of the Fa Week on Monday for last week dropping in 21 points and 7 rebounds against Western Kentucky and then 28 points and 10 rebounds against Middle Tennessee.

To the questions:

mra: Just wondering, Pete, how do you see this team doing in the SBC Tournament?

GPP: The most important player still missing -- and this is no disrespect to the others -- is point guard Josue Soto (left). This is especially true when other teams throw the full court press at FIU. With Soto, you would imagine FIU would have an easier time breaking the press -- which has been its bug-a-boo the Js_2 last 2-3 years. Soto -- who transferred from Florida State and is out with a fractured thumb -- is not expected back until late February, early March right around Sun Belt tourney time. With Soto back and everyone else relatively healthy I could see FIU getting to the Sun Belt semis. Without, it can be 1 and done or possibly beat Florida Atlantic in the first round and then done.

FIU Fanatic: Pete, did FIU get to sign in hoops any of the two early commitments we had?...Terrance Beasley from Tallahasse, and the guy from Olympia HS in Orlando?

GPP: Looking into that.

FIUFP&L: I just read on Rivals.com that FIU landed Nico Flores as of yesterday!!! Can you confirm this Pete??? I know nothing is set....but IF we do get all the verbal commits to actually sign... how would u rate this class? Best class we have ever had? What's the info on Markeith Russell?

GPP: Not true, yet. It's looking like a signing day decision for NF.

As far as ranking this year's class -- that's a tough one, considering last year's class brought Goodbye, plus a bunch of defensive talent that redshirted or needed a season to get bigger. If this class has more than one Goodbye then that's an easy answer. Just like they do in the NFL Draft, we're going to have to wait and see how this class does on the field. The 2009 FIU class certainly has a great chance to be the best in program history considering just the early enrollees like Wesley Carroll, Thatcher Starling and Jack Griffin.

Markeith Russell made the Miami Herald's All-Dade team as a linebacker, but played running back too at North Miami Beach scoring 9 TDs. FIU is going to play him at LB. He's quick and is a solid tackler.

FIUBlueandGold: Is Tourek Williams a verbal to FIU ? What position will he play in college ?Vidal

GPP: Yes, TW is an FIU commit. He will line up at DE.

FIUSuperFan: Pete what do you know about former USC WR, Vidal Hazelton coming to FIU?

GPP: FIUSF, Hazelton has not decided where he's going after USC, but I do know FIU is recruiting him hard. He's from New York and supposedly he wants to go close to home, because of some family issue. Does he think FIU is close enough to NYC? We shall see.

January 09, 2009

Hilltoppin' With Bruce Lee; New FIU Hoopster

So that's how the FIU hoops team can play when it has some players back on the court. Big win for the Fiuhoop_2 Golden Panthers hoopsters over Western Kentucky -- the Sun Belt's top team and a Sweet 16 team from a year ago that finished ranked No. 22. (Thanks to Sam Lewis and Alex Hernandez for the photos)

FIU played with an intensity against Western Kentucky on Thursday night Blee that had not been seen all season. Heck, even SR doing his best Bruce Lee impression was excited about it shattering an AT&T plastic sign with a karate mule kick. Don't think there is an AT&T endorsement in SR's future, but maybe Sprint, Nextel, T-Mobile or Verizon will come calling. "Can You Hear Me Now? Good"

FIU scored the most points it has all season (81), made a season-high in field goals (28), free throws (15) and 3-pointers (10, 6 of which came from Michael Dominguez (right) who was 6 of 6 from 3-land) and the Panthers didn't turn the ball over 20 times Thursday. Until there were 5 minutes left in the game, FIU had only 4 Md turnovers.

Slowly, but surely the Golden Panthers are getting healthier and the results are showing on the court. With more talent on the court, there are more players for opponents to worry about. Alex Galindo gave FIU a boost with his return against Fordham 2 Mondays ago and getting Tremayne Russell back yesterday also helped.

Also, when the Golden Panthers are hitting from the outside, the inside opens Fa up for center Freddy Asprilla (left), who had a season-high 21 points on Thursday.

While Thursday was only one game, it gave a glimpse of what FIU is capable of on the hardwood. You can vote on Thursday's game below.

Apaw Wesley Carroll is not the only recent transfer to FIU. Guard Martavis Kee (below, right) transferred from Temple and started classes at FIU this week. Like WC, MK played his high school ball at St. Thomas Aquinas.

Kee was a 2nd team All-State for St. Thomas in his senior season in high school. He averaged 19 points, 8.7 assists and 5 rebounds. His junior Kee season he averaged 23.5 points.

At Temple, he played in 5 games during the 2007-08 season. SR said: "Martavis is in that category of a Josue Soto, who was a top prep player in Florida. We are trying hard to recruit the best players out of Florida. These are the type of kids we need to bring success to our program."

Like WC, MK has to sit out a year and will be able to begin play at FIU a year from now in January 2010.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

OCPanther: Pete, whats the deal with TY playing b-ball? Not gonna happen?

GPP: Been told TY is concentrating on putting on weight for football and getting ready for spring practice.

class09: Will Tevin McCaskill and Wade Tolbert join Dillard, Times, and Hargrett in visiting FIU?

GPP: I'm not aware of TM and WTolbert visits, but I wouldn't be surprised.

FIU Fanatic: Pete, isn't Alonzo Phillips also one of the WR/special teams losses for next season? I thought he was a Senior...or is he coming back for one more year,

GPP: How could I forget about Blue25? Yes, AP has graduated and will not be back. And neither will Jerrell Lamb (those who have been reading the GPP for a while will get the JL humor)

Apaw_2 Seems to never fail here on the GPP, we put up an FIU football poll question and fans from all over Hk_2 the world come on out to vote. The latest is a reader in the Central District, Hong Kong, who voted that the more competition, the better at FIU QB in 2010. InHkf  that poll question, 59 percent of you agree with our new friend in Hong Kong. 30.1% say what do we know about QB, let the FIU coaches figure it out and 10.8% of you say FIU has too many QBs. Poll is still open and so is the hoop poll below the updated GPP scorecard....

Globe_2 GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 39 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MO, NEB, NEV, NC, NJ, NY, OH, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

26 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.

January 08, 2009

FIU Recruiting Prowl: Receivers & Tight Ends

Ty Welcome to the position that seems to be the strength of the FIU offense heading into spring ball -- wide receivers.

Of course, everyone knows the AOL signoff, but just as importantly several other young Golden Panthers WRs developed last season and an incoming freshman crop is ready to produce come August that could have the FIU spread offense resembling the old San Diego Chargers offense led by Dan Fouts (right) in the 1980's -- Air Coryell meet Air Cristobal. Df

Before we look at the WRs & TEs, here is your OFFICIAL COUNTDOWN TO SIGNING DAY: 27 days (Feb. 4, 2009).

WIDE RECEIVERS

Believe it or not, T.Y. Hilton can still improve. Goodbye will put on some weight and get stronger and faster (if that's possible) with Rod Moore's strength program. Greg Ellingson (left) emerged last season and with his velcro hands and height will also get better.

Ge Junior Mertile (below, right) -- who caught the most famous pass (Hilton Heave) in FIU football history to date -- can have an Ellingson-like breakthrough this coming season. Remember, JM was only .01 slower than TY in the 40 on timing day last summer.

Jeremy Dickens and Jason Frierson also were dependable receivers lastJm  season with JF having some solid games down the stretch. More was expected out of Marquis Rolle, but so far the 6-2 receiver has not broke through. MR will be a junior this season, but is certainly not out of FIU's WR plans. However, the competition might be the toughest at this position and look at the guys mentioned above he has to surpass. Kendall Berry, who tore his ACL in preseason practice last season, should be back by spring ball.

The biggest impact from the incoming freshman class could be Northwestern's Wayne Times (left), who seems like a bigger version, but not quite as fast (4.5 to 4.2) as T.Y. WT came on toward the middle of this season when he was pretty much just playing WR. WT started the season playing some QB before the Wt Bulls went to Teddy Bridgewater. WT is an athlete and we could see some WildPanther (Ronnie Brown, right) plays from him, T.Y., Darian Mallary and JM this coming season.Wild_2

One of the more intriguing FIU WR commits is Central's Jairus Williams, who stands 6-5 and might see some jump ball passes toward him and once he gets in the FIU weight room, he's only going to become more dangerous on the field.

FIU's other WR commit is Ocoee High's Rocky Vann and the Golden Panthers are also targeting Edison's Larry McCoy.

Fiuhelmet Here are the WRs FIU brings back: T.Y. Hilton, Greg Ellingson, Junior Mertile, Jeremy Dickens, Jason Frierson, Marquis Rolle, Kendall Berry, Elliott Dix, James Rucker, Reggie Thompson, James Watkins, Jacob Younger.

Fiuhelmet_2 Here are the WRs FIU loses: Jody Basemore.

Carnac_2 2009 guesstimations: Throw the damn ball! would be the thing to say here, BUT should some stud running back recruits change their minds (Daquan - No to West Virginia, ATM - No to Purdue) we could see a more balanced FIU O out of the spread -- Darriet Perry and other RBs chewing up yards on the ground. Also, don't discount Mallary's athleticism in the passing game. DM is the kind of the player that can kill a defense both on the ground and through the air. The thought here is 2009 could see JM get to TY and GE's level. Also look for WT to become an instant playmaker.

TIGHT ENDS

Although the tight end is not a focal point of the Golden Panthers offense, the position is still vital to the FIU offense.Ek

Eric Kirchenberg (right) has become a reliable target for PM and freshman Jonathan Faucher had his moments last season.

FIU is not recruiting any tight ends that the GPP knows of, but one TE the coaching staff is high on is redshirt freshman Joey Harris, who spent last season working with the scout offense. John Ellis also worked some at TE/H-back last season. Also, it would not be a shock if we saw some other Panthers currently on the roster experiment at TE in spring ball.

Fiuhelmet_3 Here are the TEs FIU brings back: Eric Kirchenberg, Jonathan Faucher, Joey Harris, John Ellis.

Fiuhelmet_4 Here are the TEs FIU loses: Moses Hinton, Travis Felder.

Carnac_3 2009 guesstimations: Don't discount this position in FIU's offensive attack. Yes, the WRs and the talented RBs will carry the load for the Panthers, but FIU TEs are expected to catch passes and be productive in the running game. EK is solid and expect to see JF and JH get involved in the O this season.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

blkpanther: So as Pete says it like Da Flavor Pantherade© Pete as you can see I copyrighted it for you OK!Bg_2

GPP: blkpanther, thanks! When a recruit is lollygagging on his decision you can Lg say he needs to pick the Pantherade©...available in Power Blueberry flavor and Lightning Lemonade flavor.

FIU Fanatic: Pete, you mentioned 9 Dade County commitments so far, including Times and Russell. I count 8 so far, including 2 that were not included as All County...WR Jairus Williams(Central HS), and DB Derrick Jones, Jr (from Miami Springs). Who is the other Dade County commit?...Is Tourek Williams from Edison the other commitment?

GPP: Yes, TW is the other commit and to answer blkpanther's question: heard TW could be a pass rushing beast according to some high school coaches who faced him. He will be a defensive end for FIU.

FIU_GPanther: Hey pete, do you know if mack has also enrolled for this semester???

GPP: Not yet, that NCAA clearinghouse is a tricky bunch.

Max: Pete, was just looking over future football schedules and I remembered, don't we owe Maryland another game over there?

GPP: Yes, FIU is still playing at Maryland in 2010.

So which FIU WR breaksthrough next season....

 

January 06, 2009

Kicking It Around with Jack Griffin

Jack Griffin, the new FIU freshman kicker, took sometime out in between Tuesday's workout and his classes to kick it here on the GPP.

JG -- who is the No. 3 kicker in Florida and No. 13 in the nation according to rivals.com -- did not start kicking until his freshman season at Naples St. John Neumann, but went from JV to Jgtacklesca_2 varsity in no time that season. JG was 6 of 8 in FGs in his junior season. He did not play his senior season, because of a back injury that has now healed. We've used JG's mug shot on previous blogs so here on the right is JG tackling on a kickoff return.

GPP: So how exactly did you get your start kicking a football?

JG: I was messing around with my buddies when I was on JV my freshman season and I started kicking some long kickoffs in front of the varsity coach. He saw that I was hitting them in the end zone and he had me tryout. I had played soccer since I was a little kid and I was kicking it farther than the other kids so I ended up in varsity that season.

GPP: So did you start hitting every field goal once you got the job on varsity or did it take a while?

Kb_2 JG: I kind of got the kicking pretty much off the bat, but it was a little difficult. So I got help from Brandon Kornblue, who used to kick at the University of Michigan and also kicked in the Arena League. He helped me a lot. My career long is 48 yards. I usually practice from 45 to 50 yards out. (JG won the Kornblue Kicking Challenge in 2007 making 14 of 16 field goals).

GPP: What did you think of your visit with the FIU coaching staff when they were recruiting you?

JG: The thing that stood out about the coaches was their mentality. They are all about getting after it. No one is slacking at FIU. You have to be on time for everything: class, weight training, meetings, everything. I like that a lot. That was really big for me when they were recruiting me.

GPP: You were at a few FIU home games this past season. What impression did your new teammates give you?

JG: I went to 3 or 4 games and what you saw with these guys is that they are a hardworking, up and coming team. I realized there is a lot of talent on this team and with each game that I saw everyone Fiustadiumaerial seemed to be getting better.

GPP: There is a chance you could be FIU's kicker and punter next season if Carlos Munera does not get an extra season from the NCAA for medical reasons and Chris Cook does not come back. How do you feel about that?

JG: I'm ready for whatever the team needs. Kicking has come natural for me and kicking on the FIU Stadium field turf will be amazing after having kicked on grass all my life. But I still have to work on my punting as far as the drop goes. Everything is timing with punting. I've hit a 65-yarder as my long punt.

Logo_2 GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

FIUFPL: I heard from a friend that you can buy beer at the Stadium if you are an Alumni Association member. I thought it was only if you were a season ticket holder. Can you confirm which it is?

GPP: You can only buy booze at the Stadium Club and you have to either be a club seat holder or have Beer access to the club suites.

FIUBlueandGold: When you do the recruitment update for DBs/Athletes can you look into a kid from Doral Academy (Carlton Callender) has good size at 6'1" 185lbs and has offers from Colorado State, K-State, Louisville, Pitt, and West Virginia. I'd like to know if we are recruiting him ?? Also Phillip Thomas made the Herald 1st team DB, but I see that FIU has not offered him yet, is he still on Mario's radar ??

GPP: Will check them both out and let you know. I think FIU might be leaning more toward the Archbishop Carroll DBs in Corey Ammons and Terrance Taylor.

FIUcanesFan: It was I that triggered a vote from the DR. I started school here and miss FIU lots so I visit the blog often to stay up to date with fiu sports.

GPP: Thanks for your readership from the D.R. The GPP aims to reach FIU fans worldwide.

Fomenter: Heard West Virginia was down at MNW today speaking with Times, and also that he has a meeting set up with UF tomorrow. He seems more like a silent/soft commit than anything else right now. Have you heard the same?

GPP: Not surprised that there's a late push for WT. I spoke with the kid earlier today and he said "I'm ready to be a Panther in my own backyard". You can read the story here: FIU recruiting story Of course, nothing is official until Feb. 4.

Quijote: I don't like having four QBs duking it out seriously. What happened to all the potential Colt was bringing to the table. Seeing all these new QBs makes it seem that Mario has little faith in Colt, no? FWIW, saw a young lady with an FIU cap in Paris today, sporting the old FIU logo. Ironic considering how damn cold it is, most are wearing much more than a cap. Didn't get a chance to talk to her, but Paris_2 Cap was cool to see FIU love outside of South Florida.

GPP: Quijote, the more talent at a position, the better the competition. But let's see what GPP Nation thinks below. Nice Paris story and if that was you logging on from France voting that the FIU hoops season has been a big disappointment on our last poll question thanks for adding the City of Lights to our GPP Worldwide Readership. Glad to see Paris is catching on to FIU.

Gppaw GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 39 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MO, NEB, NEV, NC, NJ, NY, OH, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

25 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.

January 05, 2009

Good Morning, Welcome to FIU

First day of the spring semester at FIU brought 3 new Golden Panthers to campus and ready to hit the Jg Ts_2 Wca_4 off-season conditioning program.

Quarterback Wesley Carroll (left), defensive end Thatcher Starling (middle) and kicker Jack Griffin (right) all are Golden Panthers and were there for their 6 a.m. wake-up calls with the rest of their new FIU teammates.

FIU began its off-season conditioning program at 6 a.m. on Monday with 30 110-yard sprints. How's that for a good morning on the first day of school.

We'll have more with the 3 newest Golden Panthers in separate GPP interviews in the coming days along with our wrap up on the recruiting prowl: receivers/tight ends and offensive line.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Gppaw Talkin' a little baseball here. Spoke with TT today and he will be visiting the GPP Tt sometime in late January. TT also hired a new coach today to replace Rod Delmonico, who will be coaching the Dutch team in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Frank Damas from Miami Dade College was hired by TT today. FD has a strong recruiting background in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and in FIU Fanatic's homeland of Puerto Rico.

The FIU Baseball/Softball Diamond Dinner is Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. on a Saturday. For ticket info call 305-348-7403.

Gppaw_2 They'll be playing futbol at FIU Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 18 with a match between Chile and Honduras national teams. You can get tickets at 1-877-877-7677.

To the questions:

FIU Fanatic: Are we really still in the hunt for Greg Reid? You seem to include Wayne Times already as a FIU commit....If so, that info hasn't transpired publicly until this blog...is this so?

GPP: FIU and about every other team in the nation is in the hunt for GR. WT is on his way to FIU.

FIU Fan For Life: Men's hoops lose AGAIN! Pete, I heard you mention the return of Souto and Hicks @ the end of Feb. What for?

GPP: Just answering another reader's question and you're probably right the return of Souto and Hicks may not be enough.

Newdazz Clawing Cancer: any new news on the FIU Beach, Pete? Is that idea going anywhere?

GPP: Nothing new. FIU Beach needs someone to donate sand and palm trees. FIU already has the co-ed scenery.

Gooch7: Now that the Football Stadium is half way done, do you think FIU will start a project on redoing the Soccer/Track stadium.

GPP: I think the hoops arena is next on the to-do list. Which has kind of started already with all the bathrooms being re-done inside the arena.

CJ: Pete on rivals it is showing ATM as visiting on the 12th this month do you know if he will be keeping that visit?

GPP: That was Dec. 12th.

ERIC: There's a back by the name of Orwin Elkins chewed it up real nice this season against Carol City,Btw  Cypress Bay, Northwestern and Deerfield went for over 120 against each team is he on FIU's radar. Also do you think Kambriel will be moved to OLB kid has a motor but is 5-10 and 200 LBS. at DE.

GPP: Not sure about Elkins. As far KW (No. 50 right, with No. 6 JJ and No. 38 Franklin Brown), you might see him line up at both DE and LB it all depends on what kind of defensive personnel FIU has next season and what kind of gains KW made in the off-season weight training program.

FIUGPanther: hey pete i know you said that the construction crew doesnt have an off season. can you update us on whats being going on at the cage and what should we expect for 09. thanks

GPP: The fieldhouse and west end zone meeting rooms/patio area/club suites are all expected to be done before the 2009 season. The fieldhouse should be open by May and we'll tour it and have photos for you on here. The west end zone rooms/patio/suites should be good to go before the 2009 home opener. Of course, if ML$ makes it way to FIU Stadium, the north side of the stadium could go up quicker than expected.

Gppaw_3 We moved down south on our last poll question reaching Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Our friends to south add to our scorecard that keeps going north with readers and with the Herald rankings:

GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 39 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MO, NEB, NEV, NC, NJ, NY, OH, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

24 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.

We've reached the halfway mark in the FIU hoops season and let's get your thoughts....

January 03, 2009

FIU Recruiting Prowl: Running Backs

The recruiting prowl continues with a look at the future of the FIU backfield. It will be a vastly different starting backfield when the Golden Panthers take the field in Alabama on Sept. 12.

From the start of spring practice until then FIU needs to figure out who starts, backs up or if they play Dp_2 the popular 2-back system. Of course, there could also be some freshmen in the playing time mix as well.

Before we look at the RBs, here is your OFFICIAL COUNTDOWN TO SIGNING DAY: 32 days (Feb. 4, 2009).

RUNNING BACKS

The odds-on favorite to get the first carry of the 2009 season is Darriet Perry (above, left, thanks to Sam Lewis for photo) and with good reason after his performance late last season. The image of DP carrying 3 Hooters on his back (photo above) in the Don Shula Bowl is still fresh. Of course, so is the loss for some of you.

Daunte Owens, recovering from a foot injury, will challenge for playing time. In his brief playing time last season before getting hurt, DO showed flashes, especially against Sun Belt champ Troy. Could see a 1-2 punch of DP and DO or....DMDm_2

Would not shock to see Darian Mallery (right) get in on the fun in his freshman season. The Gulliver Prep standout rushed for 1,541 yards and 14 TDs this season in leading his team to the state championship game. DM has 4.3 speed and returned 3 kicks for touchdowns this season. Could envision him playing a variety of roles for the Golden Panthers ala Goodbye. Shawn Bright, TY's teammate at Miami Springs, could also see some action if he enters FIU.

If you look at the 3 RBs mentioned above, apparently your name has to begin with a D to run the football for FIU. Which makes Northwestern's Daquan Hargrett (left) a logical Golden Panther right?

Dh DH is committed to West Virginia, but I would not be shocked if the "Northwestern FIU 3" (Gaitor, Dillard and Times) are in his ear about staying home to play college ball at FIU Stadium. Stay tuned on that one.

Getting DH to FIU would give the Golden Panthers the "Northwestern 4" and the "Booker T 4". That would be a hell of a pickup football game to watch, wouldn't it?

Also, (keeping the GPP's Gatorade Recruiting Theory (patent pending) in mind -- what's it going to be lemon-lime?, orange?, grape?, fruit punch?), don't be shocked, albeit a long shot, if the ATM that wants to open in Purdue and never does open there and opens at FIU. This is just scuttlebutt I'm hearing through the recruiting grapevine about Al-Terek McBurse (right). Same goes for some other FIU RB surprises that could happen down the road.Atm Atms

Fiuhelmet Here are the RBs FIU brings back: Darriet Perry, Daunte Owens, Trenard Turner, John Ellis.

Fiuhelmet_2 Here are the RBs FIU loses: Julian Reams, A'mod Ned.

Carnac 2009 guesstimations: DP is your starter, but could see FIU using multiple backs like most college and NFL teams do nowadays to lessen the wear and tear on one back. DP is built -- and in the 2 games we saw him in -- performs like a true No. 1 RB.

The other 2 or 3 "D" RBs (DO, DM, DH and maybe ATM) will get their share of carries. DM looked explosive while playing at Gulliver and is a flash running the football. DH is not as fast as DO and DM, but he knows how to run the ball like DP -- natural instincts.

Also, with all this talent at RB with power and speed, it would not surprise to see the Golden Panthers get more creative with their spread offense. Maybe the WildPanther, anyone? FIU needs to land at least Rep_2 2 RBs in this signing class to give the team some depth.

Four "Ds" would not be bad grades on the FIU RB report card this coming season.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw Before we get to your questions, let's all stand up (yeah, let go of your mouse, keyboard or whatever) and put our hands together for you good people and give yourself a standing ovation.Fiufans_2

The Miami Herald blog numbers for the entire 2008 year came in and the GPP was one of the top 4 blogs  among the 48 MH blogs regarding traffic increase from the 2007 year to the 2008 year. We had 41.6% or 38,625 more readers in 2008 than we had in 2007. Indeed, "A Sleeping Giant". Thank you all.

Apaw_2 Heard from MC the other day and he says to tell you good people, he will be doing his LIVE GPP Q & A Blog in February after signing day. As you may imagine, MC will be busy for the next 32 days. I will post with plenty of advance notice on when MC will be LIVE on the GPP. TT will visit the GPP later this month.

To your questions:

Joel: I was wondering if there were any developments concerning Miami's MLS bid that would have a pro team play at FIU Stadium. There should be an announcement sometime in January... anything coming out of FIU?

GPP: The MLS is expected to make an announcement later this month. FIU really has no say in the matter. It's the MLS's call and they would be missing the boat if they did not award an expansion team to Miami with FC Barcelona's backing. Memo to MLS: This isn't Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

blkpanther: Hey Pete, Is there any truth to Tiger Clark being fired?

GPP: TC is resigning is what I'm hearing. D-line was not up to par this season, especially with its pressure on the quarterback and there were several offside penalties that really hurt. Of course, you can't pin it all on TC. The players have to perform themselves, but ultimately it falls on the position coach. Even though, he probably still could, TC can't grab a pair of shoulder pads and line up against Troy. Also, TC is the only coaching change expected on the football staff this off-season.

Spgame Gooch7: Can't wait till the Spring Game! Have they made a date for the game?

GPP: FIU's off-season conditioning program begins this Monday, Jan. 5. Spring practice begins on Friday, March 6. And the Blue/Gold Spring Game is Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m. First practice of the 2009 season is August 7.

FIUBlueandGold: Does anyone think Mario would even start a conversation with the Marve family about coming to FIU ?

GPP: FIUB&G, This isn't your old FIU coaching staff, MC & his staff turn over every rock when it comes to recruiting. But for RM playing at USF in his hometown of Tampa would seem more likely.

Puma: Happy New Year Pete. What happened to Delmonico? I missed that news.

GPP: Puma, HNY to you too. RDM left to coach the Dutch National team. A coach like him that has beenRdm  a head coach for most of his career, it was only a matter of time before he found a head coaching job. FAU missed out not hiring RDM.

Ultimate FIU Fan: Pete when is Souto coming back?

GPP: Late February, when Russell Hicks is also expected back. Tremayne Russell (Jan. 10 or 11) and J.C. Otero (a week after Jan. 11) are the next walking wounded to return for FIU.

Apaw_3 Give MC a hand with recruiting....


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