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Camp Preview: Defensive Backs & Top 5 Position Battles To Watch

No more previews after this one. From here on out the action on the FIU Stadium field will give you an idea as to who will play where and how much playing time those players will see. Beginning with Monday's first practice at 9 a.m. at FIU Stadium.

The Panthers defensive backs could give the linebackers a run for their money as to which unit is theAgaitor strength of the FIU D. However, the uncertainty at the corner position opposite Anthony Gaitor (right) gives us pause in ranking this unit with the LBs.

As we all know, AG has established himself as one of the top defensive backs not only in the Sun Belt, but nationally as well with his inclusion into the top DB Award watch list.

AG set the FIU record with 5 picks last season, but it might be tough for that number to go up with opposing QBs aware of No. 7 and might not throw as often his way.

The other starting corner position is up for grabs. Who wants it?

Well, here are your candidates (in no particular order): Dez Johnson (left), Jarrell McGee, Derrick Jones, O' Darris D' Haiti, George Palmer, Emmanuel Souarin and Peter Riley.

Dez In the current depth chart, Johnson is listed as the starter, and this is NOT a knock on Dez, but how much does a depth chart for a position that is up for grabs really mean on Aug. 9 with the season opener on Sept. 12?  Johnson, a senior, has the experience.

McGee (JUCO All-American) and Jones (All-County) could be considered favorites for the job coming in with their accolades, but they still have to prove it on the field in Division I football.

OD has been steady while at FIU. Palmer had a solid spring prompting MC to say: "He's a workaholic, a good athlete, real tough. He has a natural feel for playing the game."

Souarin redshirted last season, but was also an All-County selection at Norland and a pretty good athlete playing QB, RB, WR and DB in high school. Riley had a good summer in workouts and is a senior.

Of course, all these guys if they don't start, could also figure into playing time backing up Jw this corner spot and/or backing up Gaitor.

At safety, there is experience and there is hurt. Jeremiah Weatherspoon (right) and Ash Parker are veterans back there that can also drill you. 

Chuck Grace came on at the end of last season and could challenge for serious playing time. 

FIU has some solid depth at safety with Terrance Taylor, Jonathan Cyprien, Derrick Clark, Kreg Brown, Cain Elliott, and walk-ons Antwoine Bell (Miami High) and Solomon Smith (a former QB at Miramar Everglades High).

*Thanks to Alex J. Hernandez for FIU photos

Top 5 Position Battles to Watch in Camp

1) Defensive Line -- Four dependable and productive players have to emerge to help FIU have a successful season in 2009. If you don't get much pressure on the opposing QB and don't open it up for your talented LBs to make plays then the Panthers D will be on the field for long stretches of time and that's not good when you have what could be a potent offense waiting on the sidelines. Jonas Murrell (left) will Jonas be a key cog on the D-Line.

2) Backup Running Back -- Darriet Perry can carry a load, but you don't want to put the entire running game on the sophomore's shoulders. A solid No. 2 back has to emerge this month in camp. About the No. 2 back right now, MC says: "Daunte Owens has flashed, but aside from that there isn't a proven back. There is some excitement about what we can be, but there is a lot to prove."

As far the depth chart at No. 2, MC says: "That's why all those names [backup RBs] are on magnets [on the metallic depth board in the fieldhouse] so we can switch them every day. We're going to create situations for those guys to make plays. We're going to create situations where they are running behind the first and second team lines to make the playing field competing for that job as level as possible."

3) Defensive Back Spot Opposite Gaitor -- You got the info above on this post. If FIU struggles to create a pass rush this DB spot will be tested quite often.

4) Linebackers -- You figure Scott Bryant has one spot nailed down, but stranger things have happenedFrier so don't go figuring just yet. FIU has 9 very talented LBs and if these guys can get some space from the D-Line, we could be seeing 3 mini-Monstruos out there disrupting opposing offenses. Yes, I know El Monstruo played a lot of D-Line, but he was and is an LB at heart.

5) Slot Receiver -- No. 4 is on one side, but with the talent in the FIU receiving corps, La Pierna could go double slot. And why not, look at these guys to cover: Ty Frierson (right), Wayne Times, Rocky Vann and Larry McCoy. It's OK if opponents want to focus on double covering Goodbye, Paul McCall has got plenty of other options.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw Will have your daily camp updates here beginning after Monday's 9 a.m. practice.

SouthPaw: Pete, your review of the DL didn't mention Ricky Booker. Is he still on the team?

PP: Yes, he is.

Apaw So who starts opposite Gaitor?

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