Only one college-affiliated football team from the South Florida metropolitan area showed up anywhere around the USA Today/Coaches preseason Top 25 poll. Theres nothing unusual about that.
What gives the alternate universe vibes is the one team is FIU, which begins practice Friday morning, not the University of Miami. As the old line goes: something new has been added.
FIUs three voting points put them in the Others Receiving Votes pack outside the Top 25, tied for 43rd. UMs Al Golden is one of the 59 voting coaches, but the Hurricanes received zero voting points in the poll.
Then again, preseason polls often are about what you did last year and what you have coming back.
UM brings back 10 starters total from a 6-6 season and saw the NFL draft running back Lamar Miller, linebacker Sean Spence, wide receivers Tommy Streeter and Travis Benjamin. Though the ACCs a more muscular conference than the Sun Belt, FIU brings back eight starters on offense and 21 of 22 of the first and second strings on what was the nations No. 14 scoring defense. The Panthers received its first ever Top 25 votes early last season at 3-0 before finishing 8-5 with a Beef OBradys St. Petersburg Bowl loss to Marshall.
The best player in the FIU programs 10 seasons, dynamic wide receiver/kick returner T.Y. Hilton, runs around Indianapolis Colts training camp these days. But five players are on national individual award preseason watch lists as opposed to two last year and the team looks less explosive, but more solid.
While FIU coach Mario Cristobal believes the team should be proud of such recognition and should aim for annually having players on watch lists, hes not exactly strutting.
You look at it, embrace it for a second, then put it aside to do what you have to do, Cristobal said. We have 30 seniors who have been with this program through ups and downs. I dont think itll be hard for them to recognize that ultimately, this really means nothing.
Its been a happy couple of days out near Sweetwater. North Miami High senior cornerback Troy McCollum announced a verbal commitment to FIU on Wednesday, as did Krop High sophomore Jovon Durante. Durantes brother, First Team All-Dade player Johnnie Durante, is an FIU freshman.