First day of pads, defense shines

Rhys Williams/staff writer

Day three was the first day in full pads for the FIU football team during spring practice,and even though the team has been out of them for almost six months, it took no time to adjust.

“Being back in pads today, I had to adjust at first but by the end of the day I felt, like I had been wearing them all week,” Punter Chris Ayers said. “It honestly doesn’t feel like I am wearing them at all anymore.”

It is looking as if Ayers is one of the few set starting spots on this year’s roster as he is the only true punter at the moment. However, with three current place kickers on the roster, kicking is going to go a little differently.

“Sergio (Sroka) came in with me last summer, one of the walk-ons played at a smaller school and the other one is a soccer style kicker so they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I will be glad to play with any combination of them,” Ayers said.

Coach Kevin Wolthausen, the special-teams coordinator, added, “like every other position on the field you want to have competition and see which guys will rise to the top. If you have less than three or four then you might be fine but we will decide if we keep them based on performance throughout practices.”

With the offensive side of the football, Head Coach Ron Turner made it clear that Jake Medlock will be the starting quarterback.

However, even though the offensive line unit only had nine players at practice, with Michael Montero being gone at a track meet, Medlock is not worried.

“I trust these guys. We all work here together and people can say that they are young but that doesn’t really matter,” Medlock said.

Steve Shankweiler, the offensive line and run-game coordinator, is always recruiting more offensive lineman. A fellow coach was needed at the practice to step in at left guard with the second team.

“I like putting myself through misery,” Shankweiler joked. “There is a need for recruiting and it hasn’t happened. I am doing it right now. I spend a lot of time recruiting every day.”

Four high school offensive linemen are committed to join the team in the fall and one or two junior college transfers will be joining the Panthers then as well.

With the rest of the offense, the receivers ran their routes today with few errors. The only thing that was off was the timing of the routes with the quarterbacks on a few of the routes in both the sectional practice and the full-go scrimmaging with the defense.

The defense is arguably the best part of the team going into the rest of spring practice. With Isame Faciane still recovering from offseason surgery, the rest of the defense is picking up the slack without him.

The defensive line was able to break through to sack the quarterbacks in the scrimmage on almost every play and met the running backs within a yard or two of the line of scrimmage each time with the linebackers not too far behind.

All three of the groups of defensive backs hustled to the ball all practice long, even obtaining a compliment from the staff when one coach yelled, “I am liking what I am seeing, all my DB’s getting to the ball.”

On the overall appeal of the day, Turner had a short phrase to sum it all up.

“They are where I expected them to be and we are going to come out every day trying to get better.”



About the Author

Rhys Williams
: Sports Director, Class of 2016, Physical Education: Coaching (Major), Communication Arts (Minor), Sports Enthusiast with a Focus on Football and Track & Field.