(Like I wrote in the headline, VERBAL COMMITMENT breakdown, this post is intended to give a little background information on some of the commitments FIU has already received. I plan on having recruiting updates nearly every day leading to Feb. 2. Please comment on the bottom if you have trouble playing any of the videos.)
From what is known so far, FIU has about 16 verbal commitments for next season, not including the two junior college transfers that have already signed national letters of intent, Tevin Blanchard and Jordan Hunt. (There are a few discrepancies among the recruiting sites).
Roughly, that includes three quarterbacks, four receivers, two tight ends, a running back, two safeties, three line backers, a corner back, an offensive lineman and a defensive end.
FIU is losing 16 players to graduation (8 starters) and will be looking for help in several key spots:
FIU will probably take the biggest hit in the defensive backfield, losing Ash Parker and Anthony Gaitor. It was nice to see Parker playing again after enduring such bad luck. Parker made some big plays and had some monster hits this season. Anthony Gaitor is a special player that will be hard for FIU to replace. There is a good chance Gaitor will be playing on Sundays in the future.
The Panthers will also be losing Kreg Brown, Marquis Rolle and Dezariah Johnson. The Panthers have a ton of defensive backs on the roster, but like I said before, losing a player of Gaitor's caliber will be tough. The defense was much improved last year but at times seemed susceptible to big plays through the air.
FIU has gotten verbal commitments from Bay Senior corner back T.J. Lowder (5-11, 175.) Lowder played both ways this season, taking snaps at receiver and DB. Lowder's offensive highlights below show he is a soild athlete.
Lowder is considered a a two-star recruit, that will add more depth.
Expected to join Lowder, are safeties Luis Rosado from Gainsville and Tevin Blanchard from Itawamba.
Rosado (6-2, 215) is listed as a safety, but has played some at line backer. There is a good chance Rosado will be a line backer in college. Rosado was selected as the Class 2A-5A defensive player of the year by the Gainsville Sun (as a line backer).
Blanchard is a junior college transfer that has already signed a national letter of intent and will take part in spring practice. Blanchard had two picks and 9 break ups last season.
I expect Blanchad will be getting some playing time early in 2011.
So far, FIU has landed only one offensive lineman, Richie Reay from Tampa Robinson. Like many of you have commented, the offensive line will need some help after losing cornerstone Brad Serini and big Cedrick Mack. It's going to be interesting if O-line coach Alex Mirabal will be able to duplicate the success the Panthers had last year without Serini. One thing Mirabal has in his favor is that FIU has some solid o-linemen returning that should have a big impact.
(video below on how Reay was offered a scholarship to FIU)
FIU fans are just going to have to wait till NSD to find out what progress has been made on the offensive line. Herald recruiting guru Larry Blustein had Northwestern's Everett Slocumb as a possible commitment but that seems up in the air now.
Running backs, quarterbacks and receivers
For the most part, FIU already has a starting QB, three really talented running backs that can be used differently in certain situations and probably the best WR core in the Sun Belt. Could the Panthers use more help at the skill positions?
Of course they could.
FIU landed South Carolina signal caller Loranzo Hammonds earlier this year, joining Dylan Warner from Oklahoma.
Hammonds is a duel-threat QB that can hurt you equally with his arm and his legs. Hammonds ran for over 600 yards and 14 TDs. Passing, Hammonds had 2,446 yards and 21 TDs. Hammonds was named the Augusta Chronicle's 2010 South Carolina football player of the year.
According to the Chronicle, one of Hammonds main reasons for coming to FIU, is that coaches have promised him a chance to compete for the starting job right away.
I think it is still a little early to tell wether or not Carroll will still have the starting job next season. Hammonds seems like a solid fit for Cristobal's spread offense. (Hammonds' video below)
The Panthers will need to do some work to replace Toronto Smith and Jarvis Wilson. Both players were key to the 2010 season, with Wilson leading the team with 9.5 sacks. The Panthers are fortunate to have Pooh Bear, Aaron Davis, Winston Fraser and Franklin Brown all back. Pooh Bear should be fully recovered from his broken ankle and could be a big part of the defense.
The Panthers have three line backer commitments, with Northwestern's Lyndon Edwards and Demetrius Allen in the mix.
Allen had a monster senior season, with over 100 tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles. (These stats are from his highlight video, so they might be a little inflated.)
There is still some question if Allen is still verbally committed to FIU. Allen would be a big help to the LB core. Reportedly, Allen seems to leaning towards Western Michigan.