Jonnu Smith confident in football team this season

Peter Holland // Staff Writer

After a knee injury left him unable to continue the season, Jonnu Smith, a tight end on the FIU football team, feels 100 percent healthy and is looking forward to getting back on the field for this upcoming season. Smith believes this could be a big year for the Panthers.

In his senior year, after finishing one game short of bowl eligibility, the Ocala native is sure that he will leave FIU on a high note now that he is one of the team leaders for this season.

“Just being around the guys and motivating them, I got to put more emphasis on how important it is to improve every day,” Smith said.

On Oct. 24 during the last football season, Smith broke school records, along with his own, for career catches and receiving yardage in a game against Old Dominion University, finishing the game with 10 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns.

A week later, his 2015 season was cut short after sustaining a knee injury a day before the team faced Florida Atlantic University. He was unable to play for the remainder of the season and the Panthers suffered, losing three out of the final four games. The two-time captain finished the season with four touchdowns, recording 36 catches for 397 yards and starting in eight games.

“I learned that for the most part that when times got tough, we kind of fell apart as a team during some of the losses,” Smith said. “We have to stay together more during the course of adversity because it’s going to strike.”

After months of rehab and recovery, Smith believes that his left knee is stronger than ever and is confident that he can stay healthy throughout the 2016 season.

Smith said: “Just like I told everybody, my knee is better than it was once before. I feel faster, stronger and more powerful off that left knee. It feels like I’ve never been injured. I’m just appreciative of the trainer and strength staff for getting me past the point I was before.”

For a second year in a row, Smith has been named to the John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List; this recognition is given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end in the nation. He was also voted First-Team All-Conference-USA by Athlon Sports Magazine.

Smith is confident that this season FIU is going to witness his best year yet. The senior Panther is also sure that the team will get over the hump, and he’s hopeful that the Panthers will get at least six wins for the first time under Ron Turner and win C-USA.

Smith said: “You’re going to see the best Jonnu Smith you have ever seen since my freshman year. I’m more experienced, older, wiser, better, faster, stronger, more confident, you know all the above. I’m excited for this year, and I’ll be going out with a bang.”

The Panthers’ first game will take place on Sept. 1 against Indiana University at the FIU Football Stadium at 7:30 p.m.


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