FIU football

Big role for Dominique Rhymes in FIU Panthers’ new passing game


At 6-4, wide receiver Dominique Rhymes plans to use his height to stretch the field for the new West Coast offense.

It didn’t matter that an injury caused wide receiver Dominique Rhymes to miss FIU’s entire 2012 season. It didn’t matter that the injury didn’t occur during some random foolishness, but a normal drill.

Rhymes said, “I felt like I let myself down. I let my team down.”

Now with his wrist recovered (somewhat), Rhymes could be a big part of FIU’s Ron Turner-designed offense. Turner knows the West Coast offense best and a 6-4 receiver who can be a big target on the slants and fades opens options everywhere.

Turner said, “Receivers, as long as they can run and catch and get open, that’s all I care about. I don’t care if they’re 5-8 or 6-8. I’ve been around a lot of 5-8, 5-9, 5-10 very good receivers. It doesn’t matter. I want playmakers.”

Behind seniors Willis Wright and Glenn Coleman, FIU’s pack of wide receivers is so large that sophomore Adrian Jenkins switched to strong safety and Miami Jackson High graduate DeAndre Jasper was asked to move to cornerback (Jasper might transfer to Appalachian State, where former FIU wide receivers coach Frank Ponce landed).

Rhymes has begun to stand out, and not just by height.

Wednesday, he got behind defensive backs to catch two bombs in team drills and several times used his length to increase the quarterback’s margin for error. After practice, he stayed catching balls from the Juggs machine longer than all but two of his teammates.

“He’s been playing well,” Turner said. “He’s been making some plays and being very consistent.”

Quarterbacks and wide receivers coach Cameron Turner said, “He started out, like all of them, trying to learn our offense. Every one of them started out playing slow, thinking too much. The whole group is coming along, him especially, starting to play faster. He’s definitely taken advantage of his opportunities to this point. He’s improved every day of practice.”

After a freshman year of nine catches for 112 yards in 2011, Rhymes hit less a sophomore slump than a sophomore jinx. He sustained a sternum injury during the summer. He recovered in time to play in the season-opening loss to Duke, then felt his season end during one-on-one drills.

“I jumped for a ball, mistimed it, came down on one wrist and tore all my ligaments,” Rhymes said. “Just a gruesome injury.”

Though he hardly could be faulted, he said, “I feel I want to help my team in any way with special teams or on the offense. With me not being out there, I felt I hurt my team in every aspect.”

Rhymes estimates the wrist is still only 60 percent to where it once was.

“He’s a big, strong receiver with a huge upside,” Cameron Turner said. “He has a lot to work on like all of them, but he has a huge upside.”

• Ron Turner said the football session accompanying the April 20 PantherFest won’t be so much a spring game as a scrimmage.

“Ones vs. ones, twos vs. twos for the most part,” he said. “We’re not going to divide them up into two different teams. Maybe in future years we might. First year, 15 practices all we get, we’ve got to make every one of them count as much as we can.”

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