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.
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 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 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.
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?
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.
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: