So we're less than 24 hours away from the opening of football signing period, and FIU's class appears basically set. There could be a late surprise or two come Wednesday, but for the most part, there's little drama this year. Depending on who you listen to, the Golden Panthers have roughly 24 players either already signed or committed. Sounds like that number dwindled a bit in recent days, as QB Dylan Warner apparently either has decommitted or had his scholarship pulled.
So let's break it out down by position, and look at strengths and weaknesses -- and the needs the class addresses (and doesn't).
Loranzo Hammonds, North Augusta (S.C.), 6-0, 185
Shane Coleman, Green Cove Springs Clay, 5-6, 180
Elijah Maxey, Jacksonville Raines, 6-0, 198
Cedric Walker, Miami Gulliver, 5-8, 175
Corey Tindal, Fort Lauderdale Boyd Anderson, 5-10, 174
Freeman Dozier, Jacksonville Raines, 6-2, 170
Dominique Rhymes, Miami Northwestern, 6-4, 205
Clinton Taylor, Miami Northwestern, 5-8, 160
Ezekiel Turner, Delray Beach Atlantic, 5-10, 165
Ya'Keem Griner, Starke Bradford, 6-4, 200
Prince Matt, Bradenton Manatee, 6-4, 255
Richie Reay, Tampa Robinson, 6-5, 260
Giovani Francois, Upper Marlboro (Md.) Wise, 6-2, 230
Cody Horstman, Vero Beach, 6-3, 231
Max Martial, Palm Beach Central, 6-3, 265
Aaron Nielsen, Orlando Freeman, 6-5, 230
Denzell Perine, Mobile (Ala.) Davidson, 6-3, 210
Derrick Thorpe, Neptune Beach Fletcher, 6-4, 250
Corey King, West Boca, 6-1, 265
Lyndon Edwards, Miami Northwestern, 6-1, 195
Jordan Hunt, Copiah-Lincoln C.C. (Miss.), 6-1, 215
Luis Rosado, Gainesville, 6-2, 210
Tevin Blanchard, Itawamba C.C. (Miss.), 6-0, 170
Richard Leonard, Miami Killian, 5-8, 153
T.J. Lowder, Panama City Bay, 5-11, 165
Kenneth Proctor, Harvey (La.) West Jefferson, 6-0, 187
My take: FIU has again done what it does best every year -- stockpile speed and skill-position players. The difference: The Golden Panthers have just done it better than ever before. Nearly a third of their recruiting class can play either wide receiver or running back, with three-star guys like Maxey, Coleman, Rhymes and Walker -- if he doesn't play corner -- competing for playing time. The Panthers also have a lot of defenders who can do the same thing. Six defensive ends -- plus Edwards, who can play up or down -- is a lot, but guys like Martial might move into the interior of they can put on weight. FIU's problems, however, are also not new. With just two offensive linemen and one pure defensive tackle, the Panthers have not gotten much bigger, and they need to if they want to take the next step.
Most likely to see significant time in 2011: Hunt and Blanchard, who will likely compete for the spots vacated by Toronto Smith and Anthony Gaitor, respectively. FIU will likely find a way to get Tindal and Walker onto the field, as well. Expect Hammonds to compete with Blaine Dalton, a walk-on transfer from Missouri, for the No. 3 QB spot.
Ed. - Good catch InnerCity-Reverand. Change made.