After a season in which the FIU football team won just a single game thoughts of doubt and below average expectations began to enter Panther fans minds.
Why would any big time prospect want to come to FIU? Why would any top of the line athlete choose FIU over the powerhouse that is the University of Miami?
If you’re asking those questions the same way I was, you better not tell Head Coach Ron Turner that. During signing day Turner explained just how he was able to get all 19 players that attended one of his camps to commit to FIU.
“During the first week of January we had 19 kids in our facility and out of those 19 we got 19 commitments,” Turner said. “So as I said if we get them on campus we are going to have a good chance of getting them and that shows that our guys are doing something right. To have 19 out of 19 commit I don’t think I’ve ever been around that in a lot of years of recruiting.”
Turner also explained how having multiple camps around the state really helped during the entire recruiting process.
“This year we were able to sign a total of 26 players with 19 of those attending one of our camps which is unbelievable,” Turner said. “About 14 of them came to our camps here in Miami, about eight or nine went to our camps up in central Florida, we also had a camp at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers facility and about nine guys went up there and finally about five of them attended the camp that we had up at the Jacksonville Jaguars facility.”
Out of the 26 players that signed there is no doubt that the most impressive signing was wide receiver Dennis Turner out of Dillard in Ft. Lauderdale. At 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 175 pounds Turner is known for his amazing speed and catching ability. He recorded over 1,100 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013.
On top of his outstanding numbers what was also very impressive to me is that D. Turner originally committed to the University of Miami. However, after visiting FIU and all the coaches D. Turner decommitted from Miami and signed with the Panthers.
For Turner having a player leave one of the big three schools of Florida to come to FIU is a great sign for both his staff and the University.
“This is great for our program, Dennis is a high profile guy for good reasons because he’s an amazing player and a great kid,” Turner said. “We’ve known him for a long time and we just stayed consist on him and our coaches did a tremendous job of staying on him like writing him notes weekly, calling him and doing everything we can do to let him know how we felt about him and how important he was to this program. While also letting him know what we can do for him on the field and what we can do for him off the field well.”
Now having 19 guys commit to FIU and even having one de-commit from UM is a great accomplishment and all but what I was looking for were the big boys. The guys on the offensive and defensive lines, because just last season the Panthers gave up 52 sacks on offensive while finding a lack of depth on the defensive line.
And that’s what Turner and the rest of the FIU football coaching staff was thinking as well. The Panthers were able to sign 10 linemen this year, five on the offensive side of the ball and five on the defensive side.
“As far as our recruiting class I believe that we met our needs. Going into it we had a goal, a vision about what we needed to get and who we needed to get signed,” Turner said. “I definitely feel that we improved our depth in all areas especially in the offensive and defensive line. That’s the foundation of your success, you can have all the skills guys you want and they get all the credit for everything but in reality the foundation of your program are the guys up front.”
Leading the way for this group of young linemen is Josh Deuyour out of Hollywood Hills. Standing at an impressive 6-foot-9 and weighing in at 325 pounds Deuyour was a not even a man he was a beast amongst boys. Even Turner acknowledged that his size makes all the difference on the field.
“Josh Deuyour is huge. At 6-foot-9 , he is an offensive lineman that moves well for his size,” Turner said. “If he continues to work on his technique, flexibility and leverage, he can develop into an outstanding offensive lineman.”
The one thing that I found interesting about this class is the fact that there are also many players coming in that play multiple sports. That shows me that FIU is bringing in guys that are athletes not just someone who can run fast or hit hard. In fact even Turner pointed out the significance of having multiple sport athletes in this year’s class.
“We definitely improved our teams speed and athleticism this year. We have a lot of multi-sport guys in this year’s class,” Turner said. “Guys who play football, basketball, track or baseball even some guys who play up to three sports. So we definitely have athletes and athletes who can play at a high level.”
There’s no doubt that FIU improved in its depth and athletic ability but now comes the challenge of seeing how many of these signed players will translate to division one level of play. Many questions still remain for the Panthers and none of them can truly be answered until the season is underway.