FIU football opens spring practice

Peter Holland Jr./ Staff Writer

After a couple months of strength and conditioning through out the whole winter, the football team is back on the field today for spring practice.  Head Coach Ron Turner will run 15 total practice sessions including four controlled scrimmage every Saturday until their spring game on April 15.

After finishing 5-7 last season and being one game short of bowl eligibility, FIU will come to this season with a lot of questions about the returning players going into spring practice.

Who Will Protect Alex McGough?

The offensive line was clearly the weakness for the Panther’s offense.  It began last year when then junior now senior offensive guard Jordan Budwig had season ending shoulder surgery.  

When he went down, Turner had to rotate the starting five seven times last season. Good news is that he and All-C-USA center Michael Montero are back and ready to anchor the line that gave up 27 sacks.

Turner also brought in two early enrollees that happened to be identical twins Dallas and Doug Connell. Look for those two to contribute right away and bring more depth to the offensive line.

Which Early Enrollee Will Step Up

Of course the main reason why some true freshmen graduated early is to get a head start and participate in the spring game. Last year Anthony Jones wowed the coaches with his speed and quickness as an early enrollee. He was so good that last season he saw playing time as a running back and wide receiver.

Now who’s going to wowed the coaches this year? Four players enrolled this semester to be eligible for spring football. The Connell brothers I mentioned earlier have plenty of upside to contribute on the offensive line. Or maybe Isaiah Hill from Tallahassee could turn some heads, as he will be playing at free safety.

If not Hill, it could be the JUCO transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Newton Salisbury at defensive end.

New Leaders on Defense

FIU has a lot of holes to fill, and most of are on the defense. The Panthers not only have to replace their all C-USA pass rushers and sack leaders Denzel Perine and Michael Wakefield, but they also have to replace their two cornerbacks Jeremiah Mckinnon and long time captain Richard Leonard.

With them gone, expect some new names and new faces from players with limited experience. Good news is that defensive tackle Imarjaye Albury is back for his senior season.

Look for the Miami native to anchor the defensive front. Not to mention their biggest strength on defense will be the linebacker corp. led by two-year starter Anthony Wint. Look for him to get the young defensive unit lined up.

Trayvon Williams is also returning from a season ending knee injury. As of now, every position is wide open.

Turner will be going to his fourth year as a head coach for FIU. Currently he is 10-27 in career at FIU, and has yet to be bowl eligible.

Turner and his coaching staff could be on the hot seat if this season ends without reaching the postseason. The official spring game will be on April 15 at 6:00 p.m.

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