ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill took time out of his crazy week to chat with the GPP about FIU’s 2011 recruiting class.
What are your thoughts on FIU’s efforts this year?
“I think [Mario Cristobal] has done a fantastic job. The thing is with the program, with the new facility and the fact there’s so many kids in their area, if you do a good job with evaluation, really out there grinding, you’re going to come up with some guys BCS-caliber tweeners that can really upgrade your roster. Of their 24 verbals, I’d say the top one-third are guys capable of winning the Sun Belt. The Giovani Francois, the Dominique Rhymes, the Corey Tindals.”
What’s it going to take for them to start making a play for the four and five-star guys?
“It’s interesting. You want make comparisons to South Florida, the leap that Central Florida has made. To me, the realist vision, for them to make that leap, is they’ve got to have successive title winning seasons. Consecutive 8, 9, 10-win seasons. If that happens, that leads to more resources, more funding, more scholarships and more funding, an upgrade in facilities. It’s a process. It’s not going to happen over night.
“I think what happens, is you can’t go 7-6, win the conference, and the next year not have a quality year. They need to have successive years. When you start getting into the eight and nine-win years, that’s different than 7-6. Are they going to be able to go get that four-star guys right away? Probably not. They need to hit on a couple of those quality players to make it big. It paints a picture. You only need one or two of them of a year. Then all of the sudden, in a stretch of five years, you’ve got a handful guys that are marquee guys. They end up selling your program.”
ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill took time out of his crazy week to chat with the GPP about FIU’s 2011 recruiting class.
According to the Palm Beach Post's Matt Porter, West Boca defensive lineman Corey King committed to FIU over the weekend. King was an all-area selection by the Palm Beach Post this season and is listed at 6 foot 2, 265 pounds.
For as much information as there is on the Internet about recruiting, nothing is official -- meaning, coaches don't relax -- on a recruit until the name is signed on the dotted line.
As we see on a weekly basis, verbal commitments are far from binding, and teams try to lure players away up until Zero Hour.
That being said, there's a feeling that Cedric Walker is as close to a sure thing come Signing Day as you'll find. We hear he is 100 percent committed to FIU, and is believed to be one of the best players in FIU's class.
As a refresher, Walker is a three-star cornerback/running back for Gulliver, who was coveted by as at least nine schools, including Central Florida, Kansas State and Cincinnati. He was the MVP of the Dade-Broward all-star game, rushing for 133 yards.
Work in progress. I will update until Wed. Also, you can now follow me on twitter at @JustinAzpiazu.
ESPN lists over 30 players possibly considering FIU this fall. I'm going down the list trying to contact everyone to gauge how the process is going. Of note, some of the players ESPN lists have not been offered scholarships by FIU or have even visited the school.
ATH Keondrick Daniels, Lincoln H.S., Tallahassee, grade 77.
I spoke with Lincoln coach Yusuf Shakir earlier today. Shakir let me know that Daniels did not take an official visit to FIU and most likely will not be a Golden Panthers. FIU fans can cross Daniels off the list.
OL Montae Jones, Parkway North (MO), grade 70.
Jones listed at 6-4, 340LB, committed to Washburn.
WR Jesse York, grade 77, and CB Harmon Brown, grade 75, Boyd Anderson
I exchanged text messages with BA coach Mark James earlier today. He said FIU did not offer either York or Brown a scholarship. "Not to my knowledge," James wrote back.
DT Gary Myrick, Hudson, grade 74
Myrick committed to Valdusta State over the weekend.
RB, Jerron Seymour, Hialeah, grade 74
According to Hialeah coach Mark Berman, Seymour is not considering FIU and will pick between Cincinnati, West Virginia or Louisville tomorrow. Berman said FIU had offered four of his kids scholarships but none picked the Golden Panthers.
QB Shaun White, Pensacola Catholic, grade 75
Committed to rival Sun Belt school, Middle Tennessee State University.
In the world of sports merchandising, FIU will be keeping some pretty good company next fall.
Adidas has selected the Golden Panthers as one of five 'exclusive' teams, meaning FIU will wear specially-designed uniforms for the 2011 season. The other schools selected were Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Cincinnati and Tennessee.
Combined, those schools have won 18 national titles.
News came over the weekend that Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) H.S. defensive end Giovani Francois became the latest three-star recruit to commit to FIU.
Just got off the phone with Wise coach DaLawn Parrish, who gave a quick scouting report on Francois, an explosive defender whose path to collegiate football was derailed -- for a time -- for a much-publicized legal issue.
Francois was charged with lewd and lascivious as a juvenile while playing for Bradenton Southeast, but the charge was later dropped. Still, Southeast would not allow him to return to the team, so he transferred to Wise, but had to sit out most of his senior year.
Still, Francois' talent earned him interest from schools like Cincinnati, Louisville and Tennessee, and he narrowed his choice down to FIU and Temple. Over the weekend, the Golden Panthers won out.
DaLawn Parrish: "He liked coach Cristobal, what they're doing down there, the family atmosphere. They were one of the first people to offer him a scholarship. I think it's a good idea for him. They knew who he was. He's such a good player, and he can help them in the future bring more people to FIU. So many schools are pulling in that Florida region. So it's good that they're able to reach out into a different area."
"He's very quick off the ball, uses his hands very well. Has great lateral movement. Pursues the ball, has outstanding fundamentals."
FIU Women vs. Middle Tennesee
When/Where: Saturday at 4:30 p.m., U.S. Century Bank Arena
Of note: All eyes will be on Cindy Russo as the 31-year FIU coach goes for her 600th win with the Golden Panthers, and 640th overall. ... The Golden Panthers (8-14, 3-5 Sun Belt) last played Wednesday, a 69-54 come-from-behind victory against Western Kentucky to snap a 17-game losing streak to the Hilltoppers. ... Win No. 600 won't come easy against the Blue Raiders (17-4, 8-0), who are led by freshman Ebony Rowe's 17.0 points per game, second-most in the conference. ... MTSU leads the all-time series 13-7.
FIU Men vs. Middle Tennesee
When/Where: Saturday at 7 p.m., U.S. Century Bank Arena
Of note: A promising start to the Sun Belt conference season has come apart after five straight losses for the Golden Panthers (8-12, 3-5 Sun Belt). ... The most recent setback: an 81-78 home loss to Western Kentucky, despite 25 points by DeJuan Wright. ... Alex Legion's availability is questionable after being benched against WKU for an undisclosed reason. ... James Washington III leads the Blue Raiders (9-12, 4-4) with 13.8 ppg.
Just got off the phone with Boyd Anderson athlete Corey Tindal. Tindal assured me 100 percent his mind is made up and that he will be a Golden Panther next season.
"Yes, it’s official," Tindal said. "It’s been kind of crazy I think I made the right decision."
Tindal went on to say that he only made his mind up this morning. FIU has been after Tindal since he was a sophomore at Broward's Stranahan. Tindal pointed to FIU's persistence in recruiting him as being one of the factors in his decision.
"[FIU] stuck with me through the recruiting process," he said. "I'm happy with my pick. I don’t regret nothing about it."
Tindal, considered an athlete, played mostly running back this season. Tindal thinks he will keep playing offense for FIU, but nothing is set in stone.
"They're going to play me at offense," he said.
Tindal joins a solid 2011 recruiting class that is shaping up to be the best in the programs' young history.
Tindal was third in Broward County with 1292 yards on 181 carries and 10 touchdowns.
Working to confirm, but both rivals.com and ESPN has Boyd Anderson cornerback Corey Tindal heading to FIU.
The 5-10, 174-pounder is a three-star recruit, according to rivals. He had a slew of offers, including from BCS schools Minnesota and Maryland.
He, along with Gulliver DB Cedric Walker, another recent addition, give FIU more than 21 members of the Class of 2011.
More when we hear it ...
UPDATE: We're hearing that signs are looking good, but not 100 percent locked down yet. Of course, who really is before Feb. 2?
Join tonight's live blog starting a few minutes before tip-off from U.S. Century Bank Arena on the campus of Florida International University. Fans are welcomed to talk about anything in the world of FIU sports, from hoops to recruiting.
When/where: Thursday at 7 p.m.; U.S. Century Bank Arena
TV/Radio: Fox College Sports, FIUSports.com
Of note: The Golden Panthers' up and down season continues, as FIU (8-11, 3-4 Sun Belt) has followed up a three-game winning streak with a four-game skid. ... FIU, which last played Saturday -- a 86-78 setback at South Alabama -- has lost all four games by 10 points or fewer. ... The good news: FIU plays at home Thursday, where it has gone 7-3 this year, as opposed to its 1-8 mark on the road. ... Western Kentucky (7-11, 2-4) is led in scoring by Sergio Kerusch, who averages 15.5 points per game -- and 20.7 ppg in conference contests.
The Panthers picked up a big win over Western Kentucky.
Game story below
Freshman Jerica Coley had a game-high 25 points, Michelle Gonzalez had 17 points and the FIU women’s basketball team defeated Western Kentucky 69-54, Wednesday at U.S. Century Bank Arena.
Early in the game, the Panthers looked like they would drop their 18th consecutive game to Western Kentucky, falling to a 31-20 halftime deficit.
“I told them we were doing everything right,” FIU coach Cindy Russo said. “Elisa [Carey] attracted at least three people, so we said find the open person.”
Carey, a senior forward, was triple teamed nearly every time FIU passed the ball inside. Carey was limit to no points on seven attempts, fouled out late in the second half.
Led by Coley and Gonzalez, the Panthers battled back in the second half outscoring the Hilltoppers 49-23.
Coley had 16 points in the second period, including a long three-pointer at the 7:53 mark to give FIU its’ first lead of the game.
A few plays later, Coley found Gonzalez for a wide open three-pointer to help add to the Panthers’ momentum.
“What can you say about Coley, she is a coach’s dream,” Russo said.
Panthers’ sophomore Finda Mansare, sealed the victory for FIU with two consecutive three-pointers late in the game. Mansare, a native of Hungary, had 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting.
The Hilltoppers’ Janae Howard hurt FIU in the first half, scoring 14 points on 4 of 6 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Panthers did a better job of containing Howard in the second half, limiting the sophomore to 8 points on 3 of 9 shooting from the field.
“We started picking her up,” Russo said about Howard. “She got away from us one time but I think we did a really good job.
The game marked the first win for FIU over Western Kentucky since 2002.
The Golden Panthers are simply on a roll.
In the last few days, FIU has earned commitments from offensive lineman Prince Matt (Bradenton Manatee) and Elijah Maxey (Jacksonville Raines) -- and got back a familiar name: former Killian standout Richard Leonard.
Leonard had signed with the Panthers last year, but didn't qualify academically. He has since made the necessary grades, and is enrolled in classes.
Maxey, a three-star recruit, is on campus too, having graduated early. He picked FIU despite offers from Duke and Illinois, and interest from Ohio State and Georgia Tech.
Both Maxey and Leonard are now part of the team and can participate in spring practice, even though they are considered part of the Class of 2011.
Matt, however, cannot. He's set to sign his letter of intent next week, and join the team with rest of the freshmen in the fall. FIU coaches got an up-close look at the 6-foot-4, 260-pound guard when Manatee lost at St. Thomas Aquinas in the Class 5A semifinals last month.
With Leonard and Maxey on board, that gives FIU nine three-star recruits, the most in the Sun Belt and just one fewer than the University of Miami, which also has a four-star recruit in Anthony Chickillo.
That's what this story out of Pensacola indicates, as Shaun White seems to be down to FIU and Middle Tennessee after Vanderbilt pulled his scholarship.
White, a three-star recruit from Catholic High, planned to take his official visit to FIU Wednesday after a Golden Panthers representative met with him in the Panhandle Monday.
Adding him to an already-jam-packed class could be tough. Quarterbacks Loranzo Hammonds, North Augusta (S.C.), and Dylan Warner, Lawton (Okla.) MacArthur, have already committed to FIU. Always important to remember that commitments are not at all binding, so either player or program could have a change of heart up until Feb. 2.
More when we hear it ...
The FIU women's basketball team takes on Western Kentucky at U.S. Century Bank Arena, Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
Live blog will start a few minutes before tip-off.
The Golden Panthers have struggled of late, winning three of their last 15 games. The Panthers lost 60-42 to South Alabama on Saturday. FIU has two upcoming home games this week (WKU tonight and MTSU on Saturday). FIU has nine games remaining to right the ship before the post season begins. The Panthers (7-14, 2-5 SBC) are fourth in the East Division of the Sun Belt Conference standings. Western Kentucky is in second place in the east division with a 8-11, 5-2 SBC record.
The Hilltoppers are currently riding a two-game winning streak, beating Troy and FAU. WKU is 6-5 over its last 11 games.
Tonight's game will be the first televised game of the season for FIU and can be watched via DirectTV on channel 623.
I spoke with Tampa Robinson OL Richie Reay this morning. Reay seemed really excited about joining FIU in the summer. Reay cleared up any confusion about where he intends to play football, “I’m going to FIU, no matter what happens,” he said.
There is an interesting story behind Reay getting offered by FIU. Reay had never played a down of varsity when FIU offensive line coach Alex Mirabal offered him a scholarship.
Mirabal was at a Robinson practice to watch another offensive lineman. Reay had just started playing football his senior year after taking a break to get back into shape. After watching practice for a while, Mirabal walked over to Robinson coach Mike DePue and said he was interested in Reay.
“[Mirabal] likes me because I’m nasty and I get after it,” Reay said. “I’m a big body and get nasty.”
Q. When you met coach Mirabal, was that the first time you heard about FIU?
A. First time I had ever heard about FIU.
Q. Describe that meeting?
Just got word from his high school coach in Mobile, Ala., that hybrid defensive end Denzell Perine has picked FIU over Minnesota, and will sign with the school next week.
Perine, a three-star recruit, according to Rivals.com, notified both schools of his decision Tuesday morning.
"He's 6-3, 215 pound kid, with tremendous upside," said Davidson coach Fred Riley. "I think they believe, just like we believe, that he’s going to grow into a 270-pound kid who run. He's a 4.6 kid. Great speed."
More in Wednesday's Miami Herald ...
Just got word from FIU coach Mario Cristobal that University of Connecticut defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has officially accepted the same job with the Golden Panthers.
Working to get Orlando on the phone at some point, but here are Mario's thoughts on his new assistant:
"If you look at the history of the last five years of UConn football, they’ve done some amazing things. They faced a lot of spread offense, including Cincy and West Virginia, and had great success. He’s called a lot of big games, and just coming off a BCS bowl game. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge and he's a great teacher."
UPDATE: FIU is holding off making a more formal annoucement for another 24 hours, as Orlando still needs to go through the standard screening process that all hires must. But I do know that Orlando is on campus, participating in department meetings, etc. So official, perhaps not. But essentially a done deal.