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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.


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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Pete, what exactly happened with Kambriel Willis? Wasn't happy at FIU? Academics?

Hi Pete, can you please give us some information on any of the players transfering?

PantherPride, I have the same question, what's up with Kambriel?

Kambriel was mismanaged from the get go. He never should have started his career on the D-line. I hope the new DC can bring him back.

Pete, did you see how Antwan Barnes helped the Ravens get into the playoffs? They had a nice report on him on (I think?) ESPN on Sunday night. They said that it looks like he will play in the next game. It's very nice to see Antwan get some playing time and attention as well. Was he hurt?

What's up with Kambriel Willis? Why is he gone? Is he transferring?

Kambriel should have been a LB from the get go. I agree with SouthPaw, hopefully the new DC can convince him to stay and utilize his talent properly.

Pete: I was under the impression that J.Jackson is no longer with the team, at least from what I was told ??

I'll check it out.

I think we need some helmet stickers for FIU. Maybe the Panther Paw? Seems every other school has some kind of helmet sticker.

Maybe Pepsi logo stickers?

Hey Pete is anyone transferring away from FIU, that you know or heard of?

Antwan wasn't hurt this season. He was just in John Harbaugh's "Doghouse". Antwan was playing poorly early on in the season and he was benched for at least 4 games. Since he was reactivated in late November Antwan has been a beast. I think he has 3 sacks, and 2 ff in the past month. Not too sure, I havent checked to make sure. But all I know is that he is finally playing much better and to his potential.

Antwan is making the Golden Panther nation proud and im glad to finally see him breaking out. I hope he can continue his great play throughout the playoffs. If he does so he can become an overnight star.

You know this time last year had a better "feel" recruiting wise. FIU recruiting seems "dry" this year. I hope im wrong Feb 6.

Unless we get a coordinator with a great system, it's going to be another long year for the FIU D-Line.

Hide the weak D-Line, incorporate a 3-4-4 defense.

Hey Pete - Whatever happened to Ricky Booker? He showed great potential as a recruit.


Is Mike Shula a good option at OC?

Didn't he do a decent job at Alabama?
Aren't some of his players playing in this year's national championship game?
He's young, only 44, yet has solid experience.
He's currently the QB coach at Jacksonville...a move to FIU would be a step-up, no?
He has recruited in the SEC
He has ties to South Florida which can pay off in recruiting and financial donations

Just a thought. Looking fwd to your constructive feedback.


Mike Shula as OC??? Mike Shula should be our Head Coach!!

A guy like Mike Shula does not go from being Head Coach at Alabama to OC at FIU under a first time coach.

I trust that MC will hire someone good. He knows that the clock is ticking and that unless he produces good results in the next year or two he will be fired. You can bet that he will take these hirings very seriously.

Lone Panther,

just because the 3-4 has less d-line, it doesnt mean that it will cover a weak line. To run it successfully, you need a big strong Nose Guard to play the 3 technique, some athletic DEs, and depending on what the offensive personal and formation is you will find an OLB on the line as well.... I do like the 3-4 though, only negative is that a lot of times the 3-4 has trouble defending the option. But how many teams that FIU faces are running that most of the game?

Pick up a copy of the beacon for the first installment of 'recruiting roundup' today. Today is all offensive buzz.

Mike Shula?

PETE: Who are the OC canidates so far. Is there 1 or 2 front runners?

I hope that Coach Cristobal chooses a coach that can recruit well (in Florida), and brings more fire to the defense. There is no reason why we cant have one of the best defenses in the Sunbelt. They also need to look at a coach that can defend against the Spread Offense. Every Conference game will be some form of the Spread. Regardless the upgrade from the last 2 years is coming soon.

Go Golden Panthers!

Sorry, correction...I wrote the wrong thing, change "3 technique" with "2 gap"... The nose needs to be a big strong guy that can engage the center and play both gaps (to the right and left), hence the term 2 gap. If they try to double team or block down on the nose with the guards, he would then try to stuff up the middle as much as possible. This is one of the reason why the two inside LBs are usually the leading tacklers in a 3-4.

Serious question: Do you people honestly believe that MC's job is on the line in the next 2 years?... This may effect the hiring of certain coordinators because some may be hesitant to come to a program where he may not be around too long.

Yes I do believe that not only MC's job is on the line, but so is PG aka. Baby Saddam.

The new president seems very serious about increasing 1) The amount of contributions FIU receives 2) Alumni involvement 3) FIU's reputation.

He knows that one way to boost all of these things is with a winning football program. So unless MC gets this program on track and shows real progress in the next season or two, he will most likely be fired.

On a separate note, the OC and DC positions are listed on the FIU Jobs website. Anyone want to throw their hat into the ring? Hahahaha!


You need a strong a nose-tackle, true, but that's one position in contrast to filling in a full D-line in the 4-3. It seems a lot easier to me to recruit one position vs. recruiting an entire D-line.

The 3-4 requires fast DE's to be able to cover the edges. Even when that doesn't go according to plan, you have 4 LB's to cover the rest of the running lanes. Let's not to forget to mention that the strength of the FIU D are the linebackers.


You're insane. PG kept Turtle when it was almost a forgone conclusion that he was on his way to Maryland. He brought in IT and has transformed the face of FIU basketball over night. Who in the world do you think we could bring in to replace PG and get any better results than what we've had thus far? The football plan might be behind schedule, but you can sure as hell expect PG to turn that around ASAP.

To suggest that PG should but outed at FIU is setting our athletics department another 5 years.

Focus on the long term and the big picture.

Turtle Thomas has been a good baseball coach for us, but in all honesty baseball is not a huge revenue sport, nor does it get people very excited.

I have faith in IT, but FIU basketball has not changed much. To say it has changed overnight (to what exactly? you werent specific) is giving the IT hiring too much credit.

Our athletics program is not much different than it was from a few years ago. New faces, but pretty much the same results. The football stadium was routinely less than half full and the basketball arena is getting there.

As for the football program, Im not so sure PG can turn it around ASAP. Miami is a football city (a bandwagon one, but still football) and the best way to get people to care about FIU and FIU athletics is through the football program.

PG rubbed me the wrong way when he hired MC to be the head coach when there were other candidates that were much more qualified and just plain better coaches. Like Mike Shula. To think about it, WHY THE HELL DID PG HIRE MC?! Its the old boys network to the max. ridiculous.

LonePanther - other than high profile coaches in basketball and baseball, your comment, "Who in the world do you think we could bring in to replace PG and get any better results than what we've had thus far?" makes no sense. News flash my friend - Football, Basketball and Baseball have sll sucked during PG tenure. So to answer your question, a monkey could do better than PG, he can't do much worse.


I think that you are the one who is insane or misinformed. PG didn't save Turtle from leaving to UMD. MD AD Debbie Yow never had any intention of hiring Turtle. That athletic program was decimated (and put on probation) years ago during the Bob Wade basketball debacle and Lenny Bias tragedy; they are just now starting to dig out. Turtle simply used a conversation as leverage; he never contemplated leaving. I would be most alarmed at the fallout from the recent firing of ASU baseball coach Pat Murphy. Did you happen to see all of the recruiting violations? Did you happen to see the dates that they occurred? You can connect the dots.

Wow they are now starting to dig themselves out (didn't they win a bb championship recently). Mike Shula wanted the job when MC got it (I will let him know next time I see him, he might need the laugh). You guys get dumber and dumber.

Sorry for grammar i'm on blackberry


"WHY THE HELL DID PG HIRE MC?! Its the old boys network to the max. ridiculous."

Sorry Alt - you could not be any further from the truth. Trust me, why do you believe this ? cuz they worked at UM together. LOL.

I'll leave it there.


Enlighten me since perhaps you are better educated on this issue, how did TT's conversation result in leverage. Over who and to attain what?


So you're saying since football is the highest revenue sport, then we should forget anything and everything that happens in all other sports at FIU? I understand where you're coming from, but the responsibility of a AD is to better sports as a whole, not just football.

IT has signed a class that FIU would've never dreamed of in early 2009. We're getting transfers of top notch quality who would have no business attending FIU if not for PG's hiring of IT. Arguing otherwise is pretty silly.


Your new years resolution should be to post less idiotic statements. TT had the biggest turn around season last year in FIU history. Lets not forget that he signed the #1 players in the US and Canada. IT hasn't even had a full year as a coach at FIU, did you really expect us to make it to the sweet 16 this year?

Football is what it is at FIU, we progressed, we regressed, now we need to see what happens in MC's final 2 years of his contract.

fiufan751 has to be crazycane to write a post as dumb as that one. LMAO!!!!! Thomas was contacted by Maryland, he didnt contact them. He just listened to what they had to say, like any normal coach would do. There is no harm in weighing your options.

Secondly, your TT linking to Pat Murphy and ASU is absolutely RETARDED!!!! That whole situation is stemming from bad blood between Murphy and Lisa Love. The NCAA has been saying they were investigating ASU violations for years before that. TT was there for 1 season. This forum is starting to remind me of the bs Obama media lies that i had to listen to during his campaign; worthless and a waste of time.

Good new for the Belt and FIU. The GMAC bowl, being played tonight, has agreed to accept a bowl eligible sun belt team in the future. This gives the Belt two bowl tie-ins for eligible teams. Now FIU just has to make sure it finishes a season at least 6-6 (easier said then done) and finishes at least second in the belt (a problem with Troy and MTSU in the belt) and it is guaranteed a spot in a bowl.

Sit back- relax- and watch everything unfold. MC and staff are on the recruiting trail and are securing some good players. Im excited to see who they bring in with the coordinator openings... even more excited about watching MC and OUR golden panthers shut you people up next season!!!

And by the way- that Hickman kid is huge!!!

Troy 17 Central Michigan 9, 3'rd quarter

Troy up 31-19 on midway through the 4th quarter. Go Troy!


PG hiring MC was sooo an old boys network hire. MC was not even a tiny bit qualified to take over as FIU head coach. TE's and OL coach? Not even close to being qualified to take over an entire program. There were tons of other candidates at the time that had coordinator experience and even one that had head coaching experience at a big time BCS school (Mike Shula). When it comes down to it PG hiring MC came down to "MC is my UM boy and he's cuban just like me so lets keep ourselves close". Its the same things that the politicians do in Miami. The new Miami mayor has replaced so many people with his cuban boys such as the Police chief. but thats not for this blog. lol.

Point is that we have been paying for PG's hiring mistake.

While it is true that an AD's job is to make sure all programs do well, it is also the AD's job to find the one sport that has the most potential and bank on that.


Your rant makes you sound like you're just anti-cuban-american to me. Perhaps you've chosen the wrong city to live in.

This conversation is headed nowhere.

I guess it isnt. Let's just see what happens with the OC and DC positions. A good football season will alleviate our infighting.

alt...I'm sorry, but you are a moron, prejudiced, and dumb, if you really believe that PG picked MC just because he is Cuban. So, Isiah's cousin went to a cuban restaurant...Turtle Thomas's grandparents went to Cuba once, and the softball head coach likes cuban sandwiches...hence PG hired them in order to follow your dumb "Cuban old boy" rule. It's so prejudiced and stupid comment. Your bitterness and overall anti cuban comments...over and over and over the years has been getting old...and nowhere from the beginning. What does Miami "politics" have to do with PG and FIU, unless you are such a biased individual that needs to link them based on racial profiling?


I couldn't agree more, FIU Fanatic.

Im going to go out on a limb here and say that i think PG hired MC because his specialty at UM was recruiting and he did it well especially in south florida. PG probably believed if he could start bringing in the home talent, fiu would be in good shape.

While I disagree that Cristobal was hired b.c he's a Cuban American, I do believe that MC wasn't qualified to be a HC. That being said I think he's doing a good job and getting us good recruits...now we need to win.

I agree with LonePanther when he says that IT has done a good job, he's getting recruits to come to FIU that probably hadn't even heard of FIU, he snatched a recruit away from Kentucky, 'nuff said.

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