The first of 14 spring practices leading up to the Blue/Gold Spring Game on April 3 is in the books and this is what we saw on the first day your Panthers returned to FIU Stadium after an 87-day break.
Want to lose that gut? Pack on some pounds of muscle? Or do you ladies need help with those hips or thighs? Then FIU strength and conditioning coach Rod Moore is your guy.
To start sophomore LB Aaron Davis (below, left) and redshirt freshman LB Winston Fraser might be some of the biggest and strongest LBs FIU has ever had after they bulked up to 245 and 232, respectively.
The Hilton Heave duo also made some gains. Goodbye has packed on about 10-12 pounds. Junior Mertile looked bigger as well. Don't think they did it on purpose, but safety Jeremiah Weatherspoon and DB Brandon Ellison practiced on Wed. with their sleeves rolled up.
One guy who looks ready to blow past the Alabama O-line right now in March was new DE Thatcher Starling (below, right). The first look at the D-line on Wednesday showed big No. 99 getting by the FIU O-line and getting to Paul McCall during team drills.
Franklin Brown is looking like he will play mostly at linebacker this season to join an already dangerous core of the El Oso, Davis, Fraser, Tyler Clawson, Little Canada, Jarvis Wilson, Pooh Bear, Kenny Dillard and Markeith Russell.
And Wendy Napoleon re-joined the LB mix after a 2-year absence due to injury. WN also looked like he's made a second home in the weight room.
New QB Wesley Carroll (below, left) showed early signs of why he was an All-SEC freshman at Mississippi State with some of his throws.
Darriet Perry looked ready to take the first carry of the season. DP just looks like a football player and a No. 1 RB. One walk-on that caught the attention was receiver Jonathan Ramirez, who played his high school ball at McCarthy in Pembroke Pines. The freshman lined up in the backfield with the RBs and at WR, his natural position and made some plays.
Incoming freshman RB Darian Mallary watched the first practice and he looks ready to graduate from Gulliver and join the FIU backfield.
There were a lot of orange jerseys in the first practice, but MC later said that a lot of those guys will join spring practice after spring break on March 24.
It was a good sign to see guys coming off knee injuries like Ash Parker and Chris Cawthon moving around the field without any issues.
PP: El Monstruo is recovering well and is expected to be 100% ready when the Ravens opening training camp in July.
ArrozConPollo: Hey Pete, I was wondering if u knew or could find out how many people actually signed up as fans for FCB Miami.
PP: From what I heard the numbers were between 2,000 to 3,000, which apparently was way below what MLS and co. were hoping for.
PP: The Shula Bowl always alternates home sites each season. This year it's at FIU Stadium and in 2010 it will be in Dolphin Stadium. And you can always change your prediction, there's no prize at stake with these schedule predictions in March.
pikedanny: Pete, I see that we only have 5 home games in 2009. Will we start having 6 home games starting in 2010?
PP: Right now, unless the 2010 schedule changes, FIU has 5 home games again in 2010 -- 4 Sun Belt games and home vs. Rutgers. The other 2010 non-conference games are at Texas A&M, at Central Florida and at Maryland.
Right now 2011, would be the first season FIU plays 6 home and 6 away games. Here is the link to a blog I wrote about this last year: No Place Like FIU Stadium
panthernation: Pete, I loved the MC live blog and the spring practice articles- keep the good news coming! Unlike crazycane- You Are The MAN!
quijote: way too early to be predicting outcomes come on pete you know better than that.
PP: quijote, have a little fun in March. I won't hold you or any other GPP reader to your March predictions. Hell, we'll ask again in early September before the season starts. So everyone vote below....