Busy day in FIU athletics: National Signing Day, Cindy Russo winning career game No. 700 tonight at Texas-San Antonio and David Beckham says he wants his MLS Miami franchise to play in a new stadium close to downtown (which means not FIU Stadium).
Taking the last part first, as they used to say on Twenty-One, FIU Stadium's main unsuitability is location. Everything else can be addressed. Offices can be built. A better field can be installed and maintained. The press box can be made into something that doesn't get laughed at by people from Troy or Arkansas State. It's even got the size MLS likes for its stadiums.
But it's still out there, far west enough to kiss the turnpike. That's too many minutes of honking, creative cursing, teeth-gnashing traffic for too many people for weeknight games. It's a factor that puts a ceiling on FIU basketball attendance. If you're in a position where your Get West routes are the Dolphin Expressway, State Road 112, east-west streets from Bird Road toi 36th Street or some combination of those three, you better love that sport like it's your mama to deal with that mess.
Interim site? Maybe. Permanent site? Nah.
Once again, there's another Signing Day coaching staff change as soon as FIU gets its class signed. Last year, it was defensive backs coach Jeff Popovich getting zapped. This time, it's defensive line coach Andre Patterson, apparently, headed for Minnesota and new coach Mike Zimmer's staff. Patterson and Zimmer worked together for three seasons in Dallas when Patterson was the defensive line coach and Zimmer was the defensive coordinator. Herrald writer & editor-retired-into-stringer Bill Van Smith, standing in for me at the FIU Signing Day Party, learned it wasn't a done deal yet.
On to recruiting. There weren't many surprises on Signing Day for FIU. They brought in offensive lineman Kai Absheer from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas after Trayvon Williams opted for Georgia Southern over FIU. I like the size of the linemen. I would've liked to have seen one or two more guys who can get you the cheap points. You know, don't fill a kickoff return lane and see you after the touchdown dance.
In the whole process, they did lose some guys they really wanted, which happens every year to every school. I still say FAU made a strong statement getting who they got, especially locally, after throwing a staff together late as FIU did last year. Maybe it'll keep the Fieldhouse men jumping.
For what it's worth...Rivals.com ranks FIU tied for fourth in Conference USA with Louisiana Tech, Tulsa and Middle Tenessee State and tied for 83rd nationally. 247Sports.com, which ranks based on average rating of a player, ranks FIU 10th in Conference USA and 105th nationally. Scout.com has FIU 95th nationally and sixth in the conference, but that site also gives FIU credit for three-star Raheem Harvey (going to junior college) and running back Donavan Williams (decided to go closer to home, Sam Houston State).
The Recruiting Class of 2014 (with one scholarship left):
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas offensive tackle Kai Absheer 6-5, 310. Not rated by ESPN.com, 247Sports.com, Rivals.com when the day started. Rivals had a two-star rating on him by day's end, as did Scout.com. I didn't see him play, but a 6-5 offensive tackle out of St. Thomas? That's a chance you have to take. If he doesn't have the feet, put him in dance class until he gets them.
Plant City defensive end John Broome, 6-2, 225
Pembroke Pines Flanagan defensive back Mark Bruno, 5-10, 165
Hollywood Hills defensive lineman Josh Deuyour, 6-9, 305. Somebody's going on the field goal block team.
Jacksonville Raines running back Alex Gardner, 5-10, 185. Losing Williams hurts, but let's see what Gardner and sophomore Silas Spearman can do with an improved offensive line.
Hialeah defensive back Nick Gonzalez, 6-0, 180.
Frostproof wide receiver Jarviel Hart, 5-10, 160.
Booker T. Washington offensive lineman Jordan Ingraham, 6-2, 315
Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County defensive end Anthony Johnson, 6-3, 235
Carol City defensive back Tyree Johnson, 5-8, 165
Oviedo Hagerty offensive lineman Breht Joly, 6-4, 305.
Tampa Sickles tight end/wide receiver Chett LeVay 6-3, 190.
Fort Lauderdale Dilllard quarterback Bud Martin, 6-3, 225.
St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut Academy running back/wide receiver Napoleon Maxwell, 6-0, 190.
Tampa Gaither quarterback Alex McGeough, 6-3, 200.
Neptune Beach Fletcher quarterback/punter Luke Medlock, 6-2, 200. Adds to the quarterback battle and I'll wager he's the best punter on the roster already.
Orlando The First Academy offensive lineman Chris Miller, 6-4, 310
Delray Beach Atlantic wide receiver/defensive back Thomas Owens, 6-1, 180. Owens played quarterback at Atlantic.
Tampa Bay Tech linebacker Fred Russ, 5-10, 235
Plantation American Heritage defensive tackle Justin Sibole, 6-4, 275. This one wasn't certain until today. Rated at three stars by ESPN, two stars by 247sports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.
Miami Springs cornerback Bobby Stinson, 5-11, 155
Hialeah Jermaine Sheriff. FIU says defensive back, but he played defensive end and linebacker in high school. 6-2, 225. I don't see him getting any smaller, so he'll be either an outside linebacker or an intimidatingly physical safety.
Northwestern defensive back Shemarke Spence, 5-9, 170.
Miami Springs cornerback Bobby Stinson, 5-11, 155, 175
Fort Lauderdale Dillard wide receiver Dennis Turner, 5-11, 180. FIU's highest rated recruit by 247Sports.com, ESPN.com and Scout.com, all of which have him at three stars. Rivals.com has him at two stars. A big play receiver who averaged over 20 yards per catch over his last two years of high school, catching passes from early enrollee Bud Martin.
Orlando Oak Ridge offensive tackle DaQuane Willkie, 6-4, 250. Considered one of the best offensive tackles in the middle of the state. He's only going to get bigger and longer. If he's got feet, he'll be impressive.
Homestead linebacker Anthony Wint, 6-0, 210.