Panthers’ defensive line must ‘take ownership’ for rebuilding period

FIU running back Jordan Atkins (37) gets tackled by linebacker Danzel King (right) after rushing the ball during the 2018 FIU football spring game at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, Florida, on Friday, April 6, 2018. (Samuel Navarro/PantherNow)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

By Brett Shweky/Sports Director


When senior Fermin Silva moved to the linebacker position last spring, the Panthers’ defensive line lost one of their most talented players. However, the team believes they will overcome this transition and thrive with their depth.

“I wouldn’t say that we took a loss because we have equal amount of pass rushers compared to Fermin,” said redshirt senior defensive lineman Anthony Johnson following the FIU Spring game. “Fermin was a great pass-rusher, don’t get me wrong, but we also have an equal amount of ends now and coming in with this next freshmen class. So, I don’t think we took a big hit.”

Silva appeared in 13 games for FIU last season and led the team’s

Panthers’ defensive linemen Fermin Silva (7) and Kevin Oliver (94) close in on the UTSA quarterback during the FIU vs. UTSA game at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Nov. 4, 2017. (Nicholas Poblete/PantherNow)

defensive linemen corps with 50 total tackles. The Miami, Ola native also led the entire defense in tackles for loss and even was tied for the team-high in sacks with seven.  

In addition, the defense will have to overcome the loss of graduating senior linebackers Anthony Wint and Treyvon Williams, who both collected 92 total tackles in the previous year.

With these players’ departure, the defensive line’s experience will have to compensate. For 2018, the Panthers have six upperclassmen on their defensive line.      

“We have to take ownership of being the leaders now because we’re the older guys,” said senior defensive lineman Milford Juste. “One of the hardest things is we have to take responsibility as defensive lineman because we don’t have [Anthony] Wint and Treyvon [Williams] back there to make and calls. So if the younger boys slip up behind us, we have to make sure we know what to do to line ourselves up accordingly.”

The team’s coaching staff acknowledged the need for new leadership following the annual Spring game.

Anthony Johnson (91) celebrates with teammate Jordan Guest (57) following a big play during the FIU vs. UTSA game at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Nov. 4, 2018. (Nicholas Poblete/PantherNow)

“We’ve asked and we’ve pushed the envelope the last few months, who’s going to step up. Who’s going to be the next generation. Who’s take the responsibility and ownership that I’m going to be the leader of my position group,” said head coach Butch Davis after the team’s Spring game.

Johnson displayed leadership qualities throughout Spring camp and might be a prime candidate to replace the leaders from last year. The redshirt junior showed that actions speak louder than words with him finishing last season with 39 total tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 7 sacks.

“It’s very exciting for me, I’ve always loved to take the leadership role,” said Johnson. “Coming out of high school, I was that guy around town. You know coming in here I had to transition and had to learn how to follow at first and then lead. I had to wait my time but I’m glad it’s my turn to step up.”

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