Defensive backs: B-
Nobody on FIU’s roster looked better throughout spring and training camp than junior cornerback Richard Leonard, 5-9, 170 pounds of speed and ball skills. His eligibiity remains in question. Leonard, senior cornerback Sam Miller (5-10, 190) and redshirt junior safety turnover collector Justin Halley (6-3, 200) should bounce back from an inexplicably erratic 2012 season. With a year of experience, expect sophomore cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon (6-0, 185) to put his length to better use. Few safeties in Conference USA enjoy hitting more than Demarkus Perkins (6-0, 215). Fast freshmen cornerbacks Brad Hyman-Muhammad (5-10, 180) and Wilkenson Myrtil (6-0, 185) might see slot cornerback playing time by midseason.
Special teams: C-
Play it again, Sam (Spence): combine the college starts for the new kicker, punter/holder, long snapper and you get four. That’s if redshirt sophomore Brandon Taylor winds up the long-snapper. Then again, last year, FIU’s experienced special teams trio with long reliability records fell apart at key moments as they didn’t when they were younger. So, who knows about redshirt freshman punter Chris Ayers, redshirt freshman kicker Sergio Sroka and freshman kicker Austin Taylor? Junior Richard Leonard remains one of the nation’s best returners, but he and Sam Miller committed as many big turnovers as big returns.
From head coach/offensive coordinator Ron Turner on down, there’s little this staff hasn’t seen, either at the college or NFL level. How well can they effectively teach that knowledge to college kids and apply that knowledge in-game? Spotty records abound on that. Similarly, how well can they and their football operations staff monitor kids to make sure they stay eligible and out of law-crossing foolishness? They’ll spend this season finding out about their team and finding out about coaching life at FIU. Like several units on this team, an honest grade would be “incomplete.”