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2013 Signing Day for football, soccer, track; Popovich fired

The first day of the signing period rained down news in the manner of punches in a Sugar Ray Leonard finishing flurry.

FIU signed 18 players, 17 of them from Florida. Only Oceanside (Cal.) quarterback Israel "Tofi" Paopao's parents get to kvetch about state income tax.

Anyway, on to the recruits:

Loxahatchee Seminole Ridge running back Silas Spearman, 5-10, 195: Spearman wasn't rated by anybody until recently when, suddenly, Rivals and 247Sports had him at two stars. Scout and ESPN don't have him rated at all. When a running back's this accomplished -- over 1,200 yards rushing, 212 yards and two touchdowns on just four catches, South Florida Sun-Sentinel Player of the Year Class 8A-6A -- in a talent heavy area, but is lightly recruited and not rated by some services, that usually means a question about academics.

Royal Palm Beach Seminole Ridge Michelle Howell: captain of the track and cross country team (hey, it's not just football Signing Day).

Ocala West Port tight end Jonnu Smith, 6-3, 210: 247 has him at three stars, Scout and Rivals at two stars, ESPN not rated (they don't get around to everybody).

Smith's schoolmate and pal, running back Alfonso Randolph (5-11, 185), was unrated when he committed three weeks ago, now rated at two stars by 247, Rivals and Scout.

Palm Beach Gardens offensive lineman James Cruise (6-5, 275): 247, Scout and Rivals each has him at two stars. ESPN doesn't rate him. 

North Palm Beach Benjamin tight end Jonathan Pavlov (6-4, 225): 247, Scout, Rivals have him at two stars, with 247 putting him on the cusp of three. ESPN doesn't rate him.  FIU salivates over the talent.

Bartow High defensive back Vontarius West (6-0, 185): ESPN and 247 have West as FIU's best recruit, Rivals has him as one of three three star signees and Scout has him at two stars.

Belen defensive back Xavier Hines (6-0, 175): 247 ranks Hines just behind West and Rivals ranks him on the same level as West, both at three stars. Scout puts him at two stars and ESPN didn't get around to him.

Vero Beach offensive lineman Chris Flaig (6-5, 305): ESPN, which has been high on Flaig for over a year, ranks him at three stars, FIU's second best recruit behind West. Everyone else has him at two stars. Turner said Flaig's got a chance to play as a freshman -- as a long-snapper. Undependable long-snapping cost FIU two games last year and greatly effected two others.

Columbus linebacker Jordan Guest (6-4, 195): Two stars across the board, although I would swear that's a pretty recent rating.

Tampa Gaither wide receiver Shug Oyegunle (5-9, 175): two stars from 247, Rivals and Scout, nothing from ESPN.

Bradenton Manatee defensive back Willie Smith (6-0, 175): three stars from 247, two stars from everybody else. He suffered a knee injury last season, but said he's months ahead of schedule. He liked Ron Turner's resume, so he kept his commitment made last year. If not for the injury, Smith might be the highest ranked recruit.

Hallandale linebacker Jeremy Derrick (6-1, 180): two stars from everyone, except ESPN, which didn't rate him.

Tampa Robinson wide receiver Cody Hodgens will be a preferred walk-on. Riviera Beach Suncoast offensive tackle Garrett Scott will walk-on with a full academic scholarship.

Plantation American Heritage Luis Betancur is signing with FIU. No, not American football, although somebody should check into whether he'd be interested in kicking. He's a stud futbol player with a slew of Player of the Year awards and was recruited by Virginia, a serious soccer power.

Californian Vincent Reyes, another player recruited by ACC soccer powers, also signed with FIU.

Fort Lauderdale University High offensive lineman Jordan Budwig (6-4, 330): Everybody's got him at two stars.

Norland linebacker Treyvon Williams (5-11, 230): Two stars across the board. Williams teammate, 6-3, 235-pound defensive end Akeem Barton, wasn't rated.

Orlando Jones safety/running back/athlete Wilkenson Myrtil (6-0, 185): two stars except from ESPN. 

Killian linebacker Jordan Gibbs (6-1, 220): two stars by 247, Scout, Rivals, not rated by ESPN. Again, I don't seem to recall those stars being there when FIU offered him.

Oceanside (Cal.) High quarterback Israel Paopao (6-1, 240): Not rated by Scout or Rivals.


Miramar wide receiver Sean Avant: ESPN and Rivals have him at three stars, 247 and Scout at two. And then, Wednesday, he flipped and decided to be a preferred walk-on at FAU instead of taking a scholarship to FIU.


In a surprising move, secondary coach Jeff Popovich was fired moments before head coach Ron Turner met with the media to discuss the players signed and what might be done with the seven scholarships that remain (bet on quarterback, offensive linemen, kicker).

Turner told me two weeks ago he divided up recruiting and commit retention responsibilities among coaches by position. As secondary coach, Popovich had a big responsibility. FIU signed four defensive backs. Bradenton Manatee safety Willie Smith said Popovich was one of the reasons he committed early to FIU and stayed with it.

Tough business.


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7:59: Coach Turner receives letter from Abert Maury. Letter has mustard and beer stains along with imprint of AMEX receipt from Miami strip club...oops! Maury forgot to burn this one

8:00: Turner drinks second gin and tonic and plans golf outing for this afternoon; no need to recruit...leaving this up to his flunkies just as Don Strock did

8:01: Pete Garcia rolls over in bed and hits snooze button...no need to get to office before 11 a.m...why change routine today? Kisses cheek of 275-pound African-American adult entertainer and wishes her a good day

8:11: Turner receives fax from Juan Goldberg, drive-thru window worker at McDonald's across from campus. Was recruited by Turner when coach was picking up Egg McMuffin last week; coach noticed large body and good hands; heck, no need to recruit when stars are next to campus!!

8:14: Mary MacAfee sends letter to coach with lipstick mark next to signature. Is excited about opportunity to kick football. Coach got idea from movie with Scott Bakula and Kathy Ireland. It worked in the movies. Bet it add some bodies to the seats in the stadium.

LOL !!!!!!!!!!


Yah! Leon signed!!!

I knew that Coach would land him.

Mirabal got Jean-Felix to head up north... thats tough

That's a blow.

lol... Rob Clayborne is enjoying himself.

Sweet!! it was pretty funny tho.

Good Class so far to hit the needs... two tall corners to challenge for PT right away.

Two TE's with bigger bodies to transition offense to ProStyle.

Three OL men to challenge and grow with the program.
A running back to fill need. And a possible FB to lead block for KR or Gore.

So DE's to bring depth.

And a few LB's to create depth...


BTW, anyone see the HS coaches and recruits in SoFlo make a statement. Thomas, Kirkland, etc... all said thanks but no thanks...

North Palm Beach Benjamin tight end Jonathan Pavlov has signed. FIU salivates over the talent.

@DJN: Love the joke. Not sure FIU students will get it, but love it.

Luis Betancur signed with FIU, not IU...LOL..at your Indiana U roots...

miamicanes86 thinks he's too smart for his own good...Duh....

@FIU Fanatic - You say I'm too smart for my own good, but you can't even spell my username correctly. Enjoy your recruiting day trash.

hey DJN, would it be possible to put the ratings that these kids have next to their names?


LOL...Your NAME? You don't even know....dumb comment.

I wonder where we will tank among C-USA teams for the 2013 Recruiting class.. I remember last two years we have been #1 or tied for #1 in the Sunbelt. I guess we will know how good this kids are in about 2 years..

Go Panthers!!

Any word on Sean Avant?

Sean Avant picked FAU

What an embarassment Garcia is. He makes the university athletic department a national joke. First the ridiculous hiring, then unceremonious firing of Isiah, now what he's done lately with the football team. Not a good look for FIU at all

Lol, for all the scUm talk here - the scummiest story of the day comes from FIU. Can't get recruits without blatantly hoodwinking them, even the ones that nobody else wants.

WOW... I wasn't a Popovich fan but that was a tough move by Turner. Let the guy recruit and let kids committ to the guy THEN fire him once they sign....FIU gets classier every single day!!! I know the business is tough but this seems really low.

Was he in fact "fired"? I remember reading that Popovich would only stay on until NSD. Well, today is NSD.

Why would Avant not take the FIU scholarship? Prefered walk-ons aren't promised anything!!!

F orever Inferior to the U, enough said!

DJN, can you find out from Popovich what happened? Was this something he knew about or was he completely blindsided? I really hope he knew this was coming and had stayed on to help the team through NSD (like Dennis Smith agreed to do). Let us know whatever details you can find out.

It would be very disappointing if Popovich was indeed blind-sided by this...and by reading his commentary on Pelegrin's blog, it appears he may have been.

There is a serious decision-making deficiency in FIU athletics right now.


What's the status of Jucco stud Offensive Tackle J. Hunter? There was a twitter message that he committed to FIU. He was being recruited by Coach Steve Shankweiler while at USF and now at FIU?

Well thanks for all the scUmers interest in our conference USA school and football program.
You guys picked up 3 Miami guys and 2 more from FL...while importing 11 or so from out of Fl. Finally your schools football program models your student enrollment. 25-35% FL and nearly 70% from else where.


Football aside...The firing of Popovich is just wrong. I completely understand cleaning house, keeping some staff to recruit, etc. but he should have been let go before NSD. This is a raw deal to him and the recruits that he helped FIU get. So disappointed in FIU. DJN can we please get an interview with President Rosenberg? I would love to hear his thoughts on this winter for FIU Athletics. It is hard to get excited about the recruiting class and next season with news like this.

Anyone else receive the Signing Day Celebration invitation? I reveived an email from the AD office saying that we should join Pete and Solid Gold and then Club Rolexx for parties. Anyone want to join us? Pete is offering free table dances tonight. Just don't Twitter the information out there. I am game to have fun with Garcia, Maury, Rosenberg and others.

Sorry about Popovich. He got the shaft from Turner. Won't sit well with the players. Handle poorly by the coach...played a good guy...what goes around will come around quickly

Great stuff, the ratings definitely help. Thanks Neal!

Making a statement, huh? Only a matter of time before all those 5 star players who turn down UM for FSU and the SEC go to Florida International instead...

Nope.. Never said that. I'm not that guy.

Just pointing out the obvious parallel between this recruiting cycle and student enrollment at Ucg.

Seminole Ridge isn't in Royal Palm Beach, it's in Loxahatchee.That's like saying Glades Central is in Pahokee.

Not obvious, no idea what you mean by student enrollment.

Ok Buc,

Let me try again...

Scroll to Geographic Origins... Miami Dade enrollment is 23% of student body.
So, all I'm saying Is:

Obvious parallel between NSD signings and enrollment.

Didn't Popovich agree to recruit through signing day? It sounds strange for him to be fired right after signing day unless he knew about it.

Most of the UM love comes from the fact that they won in the past, not that they went to the school and have school pride. University of Miami has little to do with Miami, it's not even located in Miami, it's located in Coral Gables.

FIU fans went to FIU. It's that simple. No one question UM fans alliance to UM but I do question there ties. Rooting for UM is like rooting for the Yankees, it's easy.

UM has never had local students and has always recruited and signed local football players.

Ok Buck so what was it about my statement that you had issues with.

It seems like you are very aware of the enrollment of miami area students at the Ucg and the recruiting practices.

289 total students from miami for 2012; that make up 14% of freshmen enrollees...and about 30% of that are athletes to fill all sports...

So my statement on an FIU blog was that it is nice to see the recruiting geographic match the enrollment geographic. Nice!!

Just as an asside; that 14% of freshman in 2012 was a contining trend of lower enrollment of miami area grads...I wonder how long (with continuing economic struggles) it will take for that percentage to drop below 10%.

I am aware, I'm a UM grad.

What you said was all the top local recruits were making a statement saying thanks but no thanks to UM. My only point was that what UM does is not relevant to Florida International.

what I said was that UM chose to recruit similar players from other parts of the country rather than the guys here.

Which is exactly what your coach said on JoeRose this morning.

But you are only partially right, what UM does can affect FIU. when UM passes on 2-3 star miami guys to recruit 4-5 star new york guys, it impacts FIU.

When Um chooses out of Miami area guys it allows us the opportunity to oick up TY or Cyp or Gaitor or Barnes or Timothee or Tourek Williams.

Which btw; this could be the year that more FIU guys are drafted than UM or as many or just one less.

Now Coach Turner and his staff need to be able to close on these guys...but the opportunity is there as long as UM continues to recruit along the same ratio as their student enrollment.

The Cali kid is a sleeper steal.He has been in big presure games since soph.Big rocket arm for his size.Plus he played in a proset offence.Great drop back QB.But best quailty is that he is a Big time Leader and good kid.Watch for him in the furture.

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