FIU notebook

Ron Turner’s era as FIU Panthers coach to begin in first spring scrimmage


Special to The Miami Herald

FIU football fans can get their first prime-time view of new coach Ron Turner’s Panthers Friday night at 7 p.m.

The scrimmage, which will take place at FIU Stadium, will feature just six returning starters — three on each side of the ball.

Turner, who calls the plays on offense, brings a vast amount of coaching experience, including 24 years in college and 12 in the NFL.

The Panthers will run a pro-style offense, but Turner said it won’t be exclusively two-back sets and will include a wide variety of options, including no-huddle.


New defensive coordinator Josh Conklin, 33, comes from the vaunted Southeastern Conference, where he was a safeties coach for Tennessee. He said FIU will play a base 4-3 defense “with 4-2-5 principles.”

One of the keys of the defense will be outside linebacker Davison Colimon, a 6-1, 200-pound sophomore. Colimon, a converted safety, should be able to cover slot receivers, thus adjusting the 4-3 to a 4-2-5 as needed.

“A bigger safety who can play linebacker and also cover is the prototype of the guys we are looking for that spot in recruiting,” Conklin said.

Another key will be at cornerback, where, so far, junior Richard Leonard from Miami Killian and senior Sam Miller (Miami LaSalle) have shown the ability to play press coverage, Conklin said.

“We want to be as aggressive as we can on the perimeter, but that is predicated on the skill set of the corners,” Conklin said.

Conklin said redshirt freshman Deonte Wilson “will pick it up — it’s just going to take a little more time.”


Byron Pinkston, a 6-3, 300-pound junior college offensive lineman, signed with FIU and will be eligible this fall. He is from Hamden, Conn., and played the past two years at Dean College in Franklin, Mass.

One scouting service ranks Pinkston as the ninth-best junior college center in the nation. He is the 21st signee in FIU’s 2013 signing class — and its fifth offensive lineman.

There are only eight offensive linemen — including no returning starters — on the roster this spring, which means Pinkston and the other linemen recruits figure to get early opportunities.

“[Pinkston is] athletic and will bring good size to the O-line,” said Cameron Turner, Ron’s son and FIU’s quarterbacks/receivers coach. “Our goal is to create competition, and let the best guys start.”

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