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FIU signs No. 1-rated Baseball Players in U.S. & Canada

Machado Yes, it is Shula Bowl VIII week, but let's take a little timeout here to acknowledge the work FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas and his staff did with the latest FIU baseball signing class.

Who does FIU baseball think it is signing the No. 1-rated position player in the U.S. and the No. 1-rated position player in Canada?.........The New York Yankees?

Brito High shortstop Manny Machado (left) -- rated the No. 1 position player in the nation by Baseball America --signed with FIU. Here on the left is Machado hitting in a game at FIU's University Park Stadium.

Canadian Junior National team catcher Kellin Deglan (right) -- rated the No. 1 player in Canada -- also signed with FIU. In the photo on the right, Deglan is hitting in the Blue Jays home park -- Rogers Centre, formerly Skydome.

Machado led the U.S. National team in hitting this summer as the Americans won a gold medal.

Both players are expected to be highly drafted in next June's Major League Baseball Amateur Draft andDeglan may never set foot on FIU, but you never know. Machado is represented by Scott Boras, who has been known to play hardball with MLB clubs before so maybe MM decides to end up at FIU.

For details on the rest of FIU's 2011 signing class click here: newest FIU Baseball players

SHULA BOWL VIII COACHES DINNER

No, Howard Schnellenberger and MC did not wrestle or wring each others ties to see who would kickoff on Saturday. Instead, there was a lot of mutual admiration for both your Panthers and the Boca Raton Hooters by both coaches on Monday night at the Stadium Club at FIU Stadium.

HS said he was "sweating bullets" on the sideline during last year's Shula Bowl, because FIU was on the verge of knocking the Hooters out of bowl contention. Of course, you know what happened toward the end of the game as the Hooters erased two FIU 14-point leads and came back to win 57-50 in OT.

Sbowl Although the Hooters lead the Shula Bowl series 6-1, four of the seven games have been decided by 10 points or less. Saturday should be no different according to HS:

"I just know it's going to be a competitive game. It's going to go down to the wire and the team that comes out of it with a win will gain a great deal of momentum into the off-season.''

For FIU, a win would give the Panthers their best Sun Belt Conference record ever (4-4) since FIU joined the conference in 2005. It also would leave FIU one game shy of last season's 5-7 record, which considering how this season started, it would not be the worst thing on Earth and at the same time provide some momentum into recruiting as we are T-minus 64 days and counting until Feb. 3.

MC thinks the Shula Bowl series has the potential to develop into one of college football's best rivalries:

"If you watched college football this past weekend you see Alabama and Auburn going at it. You see Florida State and Florida, and Clemson and South Carolina. You look at places that are jam packed with enthusiasm and excitement and it didn't start that way, but it has become that and that's what is going on right here. Two special programs that are building and building is special, because it allows you to put your thumbprint on it.''

Sure, the Hooters are the Panthers rival, especially since the team across town doesn't man up and play FIU. Yeah, I know we'll get the blog hits on this one.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Aaapaw Check out on Wednesday at the Miami Herald's FIU page a story on retiring FIU media relations guru Rich Kelch written by MH intern Michael Zeff.

Aaapaw LIVE GPP BLOG of Shula Bowl VIII begins at 6:45 p.m. from FIU Stadium on Saturday night.

Aaapaw Will have Hooters beat writer Ted Hutton on here later this week with his take on the Shula Bowl. Here's what TH has been up to for Shula Bowl week: Ted's World .Dazz

BTW, as you will see on TH's blog, the Golden Dazzlers leave the FAU dance team in the dust. In case you need a reminder here you go.........

Aaapaw For now, let's get your thoughts on what is most important about an FIU win in the Shula Bowl....

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