FIU’s unlikely recruit Patrick Jean having a great spring


Patrick Jean turned down 11-2 Louisville to play for 3-9 FIU. His coaches believe he will prove essential to the team in 2013.

In conversation, FIU freshman linebacker Patrick Jean comes off as a guy for whom, if every day isn’t a Sunday, it is at least a sunny day. With that in mind, it is understandable why Jean doesn’t regret his significant 2012 National Signing Day detour.

Expected to commit to Louisville out of Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast High, Jean instead signed a letter of intent to FIU. At least one recruiting analyst ranked Jean as the best of FIU’s 2012 recruiting class.

Louisville finished 11-2, beating FIU 28-21 along the way, and won the Sugar Bowl 33-23 over Florida. Most factors say that success will continue. FIU went 3-9 and saw the coaching staff who recruited Jean get fired.

“God made me come here for a reason,” Jean said. “I like my family supporting me. I like my family being near, I like my girl being near me. If they want to watch me, they can come here and watch me.”

They’ll probably get seven chances to do so this season (six FIU home games and the Shula Bowl at FAU). The departure of senior Jordan Hunt and FIU graduate Winston Fraser opened starting inside linebacker spots for Jean, who started against Arkansas State and got into four other games.

This spring, Jean has been with the first team for almost every snap along with redshirt sophomore Luis Rosado.

“I think he leads by example,” FIU coach Ron Turner said. “Guys know how hard he works. He’s been very consistent with his work, very consistent with his performance. He’s having a great spring, excellent spring.”

Turner said one of the constants in the coaching staff’s postpractice review is hearing “Patrick…good practice, excellent practice.” So he’s got no problem putting so much defensive responsibility on a player with five games of college experience.

“Zero. [Put the] best guys on the field,” Turner said. “If they’re doing it in practice, they’ll be able to do it in a game.”

The feeling is mutual.

After originally being stunned by the firing of former head coach Mario Cristobal and his staff, Jean said “I think it was a good thing because I really get along with my linebackers coach [Tom Williams] now. He explains football to us in a way we understand, so that we actually know the game.”

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