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FIU Recruiting Prowl: D-Line

Twil We're less than a month away from National Signing Day and seeing who are your newest Panthers. Like we did last season, we'll start looking at each position regarding FIU recruiting as we count down the days until February 3 when the faxes start rolling into MC's office.

Much like the 2009 season and beyond the defensive line will have a huge impact in determining how successful FIU is each season. The play of the 2009 line was average with some young talent emerging.

Let's look at the DL, but first your OFFICIAL COUNTDOWN TO NSD: 30 DAYS.

DEFENSIVE LINE

One glaring spot that FIU lacked last season was that massive, agile defensive tackle to occupy some offensive bodies and allow the talented Panthers linebackers room to operate.

Maybe this coming season is the time that young defensive linemen such as Andre Pound, Donnell Wilson take that next step. Freshman-turning-sophomore Josh Forney is also another candidate to emerge.

Probably the more productive D-linemen last season were Tourek Williams (above, left, thanks Alex J.Mattox Hernandez photo) and Andrew Mattox (right, AJH photo). Thatcher Starling had a few games where he showed his potential.

James Jones, coming back from surgeries, was not 100 percent last season, but may get there by spring practice and into August.

Not having Reggie Jones or Jonathan Jackson all season certainly hurt the D-line's play. Jackson is recovering from foot surgery and might be back for spring practice, if not by fall camp in August.

Kasey Smith is one of the more intriguing Panthers D-linemen yet to make an impact. KS was hurt, but when healthy showed he can make plays on the D-line.

For Feb. 3, FIU has committments from D-linemen: Mark Grant (6-2, 260), Norland's Wade Isaac (6-2, 245) and Tray Schley (6-3, 210). And there might be 1 or 2 more D-linemen, possibly the JUCO route.

Schley at 210 doesn't really have the size for the DL. Schley also was a tight end in high school and maybe offense is in his future as a Panther.

Of course, the ultimate signee would be Northwestern's Todd Chandler, but FIU is not at the top of his list, even though the Panthers are on TC's list.

And how the D-line is used in 2010 will depend on what the new defensive coordinator's plans are for the FIU D. Nothing new with DC interviews as of today. Although Tuskegee defensive coordinator Reginald Ruffin and Wisconsin defensive line coach Charlie Partridge might be on their way to Miami to interview.

Fiuhelmet BACK in 2010: Jonathan Jackson, James Jones, Thatcher Starling, Tourek Williams, Cody Pellicer, Andre Pound, Deiondrick Roberts, Kasey Smith, Donnell Wilson, Josh Forney, Andrew Mattox

Fiuhelmet GONE in 2010: Armond Willis, Kambriel Willis, Reggie Jones, Jonas Murrell, Justin West

3cents $.03 for 2010 -- Not all the players are in place yet for the D-line to be a strength of the FIU D. However, the majority of the D-line will be sophomores and juniors so there should be more size and experience for the Panthers. The only senior on the D-line in 2010 will be Starling. With a new defensive scheme, the new D-coordinator could also help in getting the D-line to take the next step. And of course, signing Chandler upgrades the entire line instantly.

Aaapaw Will have LIVE HOOPS BLOG on Thursday of the FIU/ULM game from the Bank. Game time is 8 p.m. LIVE BLOG will begin at 7:54 p.m.

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