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51 posts from January 2011

January 12, 2011

Grades, health a hidden recruiting boost for FIU

As Justin said, lots and lots of recruiting news to come in the coming weeks, leading up to Feb. 2's Signing Day.

But how about the players who long ago signed letters of intent, but didn't play this fall, because of eligibility issues or health?

Three to watch:

1. Larvez "Pooh Bear" Mars, the stud inside linebacker who missed all of 2010 after breaking his ankle in the fall. It's a testament to FIU's depth that the Panthers had the league's best defense, even without Mars. He should be back in 2011, and will compete to take over the spot vacated by the graduating Toronto Smith.

2. Kevin Van Kirk, the offensive lineman injured in the first scrimmage of the fall. The severe knee injury resulted in a redshirt year, even though he had shown strong progress toward the end of the season. Look for Van Kirk to slide into the starting left guard position, with Cedric Mack out of eligibilty.

3. Cornerback Richard Leonard, who missed his freshman season due to academic issues. There's hope inside Panthers HQ that Leonard will be cleared to participate in spring practice. If so, Leonard's blazing speed will provide needed depth to a secondary which will lose seniors Anthony Gaitor and Ash Parker.

FIU recruiting story, video coming Friday night

Ask and you will receive. A commentator a few days ago asked for some recruiting coverage featuring Herald recruiting guru Larry Blustein. I just got off the phone with Bustein and will be meeting with him Friday night at the Dade vs. Broward All-star game to discuss how the 2011 class is shaping up for FIU. Check back Friday night for a story and a video.

Sneak peak

Blustein feels there is still a chance Miami Central's Rakeem Cato will pick FIU over another school. Larry says that he thinks Cato would be a better fit at a Sun Belt school that features a solid offensive line (like FIU) to protect him. Blustein says, Cato still needs to put on more weight to be effective at the next level and survive big hits.

Blustein also said he is starting to hear more of a buzz around FIU since the bowl game, but was quick to say it is still too early to tell what local talent FIU will get.

Justin

Hilton to return for senior season

FIU wide receiver T.Y. Hilton announced Wednesday that he will return for his senior year after flirting briefly with a jump to the NFL.

Hilton, the Sun Belt Conference player of the year, chose to remain on campus for his final year to earn his degree and improve his draft stock for 2012.

"The No. 1, thing he was looking, was with most of the kids that leave school early, they wanted to come back and get their degree,” said Hilton’s father, Tyrone Hilton. “He is happy with this decision, and I support him.”

Full story to come ...

UPDATE: Here's the story.

Hilton to announce decision today

Will T.Y. stay or will he go? We should know by the end of the day.

Conference player of the year T.Y. Hilton is expected to announce his intentions for his senior season at some point Wednesday.

Not sure which way Hilton is leaning yet, but when we hear something, we'll let you know.

If you want up-to-the-minute accounts of his status, I suggest following me on Twitter, which is the fastest and easiest way to get the news out.

As for Mario Cristobal, yes, as many of you have noted, he didn't get the job at Pitt, where numerous reports linked him as a possible candidate. The Post-Gazette claims he was one of eight interviewed for the job, which ultimately went to Todd Graham.

Sorry I didn't get this out yesterday. My one day off for the week.

January 10, 2011

Report: Graham front-runner at Pitt

Pittsburgh's coaching search, which may or may not include FIU's Mario Cristobal, seems to have zeroed in on a favorite.

The Post-Gazette reports Monday that Tulsa coach Todd Graham is at the top of the list, even with a second round of interviews set to begin.

It seems the reason Graham has not been hired already (and the reason Cristobal's name has been floated, with several others) is money. He would demand, reports say, $1.8 million a year. Surely, that would not be a concern with Cristobal, who made in the neighborhood of $400k last year.

Efforts to reach Cristobal for comment have been unsuccessful.

January 09, 2011

Hilton to go pro? Check back Wednesday

T.Y. Hilton will decide whether or not to jump to the NFL by Wednesday morning, and a formal annoucement is expected by the end of the week.

This is according to his dad, Tyrone Hilton, who had previously said that the Sun Belt's player of the year would likely have his mind made up after meeting with FIU coach Mario Cristobal Sunday.

Apparently, Hilton -- who was on a float with Cristobal Sunday as part of the Three Kings Parade -- is still mulling his options.

It seems he's not the only one.

Cristobal has been named by several publications as a potential candidate for the University of Pittsburgh's head coaching opening, but the school has been tight-lipped on specifics of its search process.

When we hear more, you'll hear more.

January 06, 2011

FIU wins second straight

The FIU men's basketball team beat Arkansas State 75-70 at U.S. Century Bank Arena on Thursday. Guard Marvin Roberts finished tied with forward Eric Frederick with 17 points. Roberts was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line, including six key free-throws late in the second half.

FIU is now a perfect 2-0 in conference play and will face South Alabama, Saturday night at home. This is the first 2-0 conference start for FIU since the 1999-2000 season.

Check Herald sports page for game story by Herald vet Bill Van Smith.

Full boxscore

Justin

FIU Men vs. Arkansas State -- TONIGHT!

When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
Where: U.S. Century Bank Arena
TV/Radio: FIUSports.com
Of note: The Golden Panthers (6-7, 1-0 Sun Belt) vie for their first 2-0 conference start since 1999-2000 ... They last played Sunday, beating Louisiana-Monroe 73-72 on a game-winning runner by Jeremy Allen. ... Alex Legion has averaged 14.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in the four games he's played this year. ... The Red Wolves (7-8, 2-0) have won four of their last five games. ... Sophomore guard Trey Finn has averaged 15.3 points over the last four games and is the reigning conference player of the week.

January 05, 2011

Mirabal: Serini to play in new all-star game

Speaking of NFL draft prospects, good news for center Brad Serini, who has been invited to the inaugural Eastham Energy All-Star Game, held in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 23.

That, according to Alex Mirabal, who Tweeted out the news this morning.

Eastham Energy is the third major showcase for NFL Draft hopefuls, joining the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game. It will televised live on FS Arizona, but it's not clear if it will be made available locally.

Serini, CB Anthony Gaitor, OL Cedrick Mack and WR Greg Ellingson are the highest-rated FIU seniors, while feelers have also been sent out by NFL scouts for LB Toronto Smith and DE Jarvis Wilson.

Projecting T.Y. Hilton's draft value

So news came yesterday that T.Y. Hilton might skip his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft as a freshman junior.

Certainly, few FIU fans would begrudge him that choice. He's already broken most every FIU receiving and offensive record, and made the signature plays of the Panthers' Sun Belt championship run -- not to mention their Little Caesars Pizza Bowl championship.

So can he? Of course. But should he?

Scouting websites haven't really given a grade for Hilton, because he's considered part fo the class of 2012.

But it's instructive to see the value of the player he's been most often compared with: Troy's Jerrel Jernigan.

Both are of the same mold: Smallish, lightning quick, and versatile.

And if Hilton's graded anywhere near as high as Jernigan, he should think long and hard about taking the plunge.

Several websites list Jernigan as one of the top receivers in this year's relatively weak class, and he's been slotted to go anywhere between the first and fifth rounds.

Now, we're hearing that Hilton's projection wouldn't be quite that high (probabaly no better than third round), and the depth of the position will surely improve when underclassmen decide to declare.

But if the Advisory Committee comes back with a strong evaluation, FIU fans may have to brace themselves for a Hilton-less 2011.

January 02, 2011

Recruiting update; live blog Q&A

According to scout.com, Miami Northwestern receiver Dominique Rhymes verbally commited to FIU on Dec. 30. Rhymes is listed at 6 foot 3 and 205. This season Rhymes caught 42 passes for 746 yads and 8 scores. Rhymes could be a valuable addition to an already stacked receiver core.

Update on Cato, Scout now lists Cato's commitment level as soft verbal.

Boyd Anderson corner back Corey Tindal verbally committed to FIU a few days before Rhymes. Tindal is listed at 5-10, 165. Scout lists Tindal as a corner back, even though Tindal played the majority of the year at running back, amassing 1292 yards and 10 TD.

News and notes

The FIU men's basketball team won its first conference and road game of the season, 73-72 over Louisiana-Monroe. Junior Jeremy Allen made a game-winning shot with less than a minute to play to power FIU (6-7). Full release here.

Responce to comments

@miami south paw, FIU has some nice O-line and D-linemen in waiting. Going to be hard to replace Serini. That might be one of the biggest factors next season. The center is the second most important job on the offensive line. Could argue it's the most important. Good to keep Caylin around for another year.

@miami south paw, I could see Revilla switching over, but still really hard to replace so much experience.

@MiamiSouthPaw, I have seen Medlock some in practice. Looks like a good sized player with good arm strength. It's going to be tough for Carroll to lose the starting job.

On the Cato front, there are some indications he is keeping his options open at the moment. That does not mean he won't commit on signing day. Always good to bring in more than one QB. A Juco player will be more polished than a kid out of high school.Q. SCOUT.COM Reports: FIU is ranked only FIVE spots below UM in the 2011 recruiting class, out of 120 schools.

@Quijote, Cristobal feels he is on the cusp of bringing in his best class ever. Going to be interesting to see if FIU can steal some players from Miami.

Justin

   

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