Peter Holland Jr./ Staff Writer
Nothing is more intense than a high school athlete making a big decision in what university they want to play and get their education for the next four years. That’s what National Signing Day is all about. Wednesday, Feb. 3 will be National Signing Day. It is an all-day event for talented high school athletes signing their letter of intent to play for a college of their choosing. Nothing is more exciting than a football player dressed up in their future team colors and signing that dotted line to their future schools.
It’s going to be a busy day for FIU head coach Ron Turner. Right now FIU’s football team currently has 22 verbal commits in the recruiting class of 2016 and four players have already enrolled this semester. With last year’s class, Turner made an attempt to put this football program one step in the right direction.
For FIU, last year’s recruiting class had a few freshmen that played key roles on the roster. Tyree Johnson started eight totals games this past season finishing up 57 total tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss and four pass break ups as a true freshman. Anthony Jones was used for multiple positions at running back, wide receiver and return specialist. His numbers weren’tt as impressive as recruiters expected, but it won’t be surprising if he gets more opportunities to play next season next season.
There were still some freshmen who didn’t play as much but still impacted the game. Fermin Silva, at defensive end, who saw the field and finished with seven tackles and 0.5 this season, Stone Wilson, who started every game at punter or even Kenyatta Anderson, who blocked a punt during a game against Charlotte had their share of contributions that led to FIU victories. Coach Turner and his staff could find players who can contribute right away or step in when someone goes down. Turner has taken advantage in searching talented players in the state of Florida. Even though ranking high school players from 0 to 5 stars isn’t very accurate than what people think, Turner and his staff will for sure look for players that fits their system and who could be that hidden gem like T.Y. Hilton, Jonathan Cyprien or even Richard Leonard. When you look at the latest recruits, don’t look at how many stars they received or the rankings because clearly the coaches know something that we don’t.
I think Turner’s main focus in this year’s class is depth, which was of the Panther’s weakness all of last season. Most injuries from last season were on the offensive line and the secondary. After Jordan Budwig went down during the summer, the coaches had to rotate different players in the front line until they find the right pieces that can get on the same page. On the defensive side, majority of the starters are gone. This leaves some positions wide open for even a true freshman, redshirt freshman or a junior college transfer to step up.
This is pretty much why National Signing Day is the paramount of the offseason. It’s somewhat similar to the NFL draft. The only difference is that it’s the player’s decision. Majority of them already made their commitment and only needs to sign the letter of intent. While for some players, it comes down to the tip of their hat.