FIU football

FIU coach Ron Turner era begins with opportunities


With a new coaching staff and nothing set in stone, competition for starting spots is wide open as practice starts.

One thing you can say about FIU’s fall practice, which officially starts Monday: at least it won’t be boring.

There is a new coaching staff with coach Ron Turner in his first college training camp in nine years. And there will be new starters all over the roster, from running back to the kicking game specialists, and maybe even a shuffling of the quarterback depth chart.

All that concerns what happens on the field. The start of fall practice creates a line separating an offseason of off-field controversies and the actual 2013 season, which begins Aug. 31 at Maryland.

The dismissal of Kedrick Rhodes after he fired a gun on campus leaves the running back spot open for redshirt sophomore Shane Coleman, redshirt junior Jakhari Gore or perhaps freshman Silas Spearman III from Loxahatchee Seminole Ridge High.

Though redshirt junior Jake Medlock begins practice as the starting quarterback (and might wind up the punter), sophomore E.J. Hilliard impressed coaches in the spring. But Hilliard’s spot as the backup should Medlock hold onto No. 1 isn’t locked in either. Travis Wright out of nationally ranked Louisville Trinity, rated at two to three stars, could push Hilliard and so could Oceanside (Calif.) High graduate Israel Paopao.

Whoever the running backs or quarterbacks are will be behind an offensive line that might be the biggest project of camp. The lack of maturity and experience is such that University School’s Jordan Budwig, Palm Beach Gardens High’s James Cruise, Vero Beach High’s Chris Flaig and Crowley (Texas) High’s Tim Thomas could work their way into playing time as freshmen with good performances in practice.

Practices on Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium will be open to the public. Practice starts at 9:15 a.m. Monday. Practices start at 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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