There is no battle for the starting quarterback position, wide receiver spots are wide open and a walk-on defensive back has stepped up to a prominent role.
Those were among the revelations made Thursday by new FIU football coach Butch Davis after his Panthers went through their ninth practice of the spring.
The annual spring game, which will have an “Offense vs. Defense” format, is set for April 7 at FIU’s stadium, which has been updated with new field turf and a new video board.
An announcement to name a title sponsor for the stadium is expected on Monday.
Davis expressed confidence in quarterback Alex McGough, a rising senior who is set to become a fourth-year starter and has dismissed the challenges of backups Christian Alexander and Maurice Alexander (no relation).
“Barring anything that would go crazy,” Davis said, “[McGough is] definitely our starting quarterback.
“Alex has done a great job learning the offense real quick.”
McGough also performed well in two-minute drills on Thursday.
“His composure and his maturity are evident,” Davis said.
At receiver, FIU returns senior Thomas Owens, who started all 12 games and led the team in receptions (47), yards (652) and touchdowns (seven).
Deep threat Stantley Thomas, who also started 12 games, was the second-leading receiver with 35 catches for 485 yards.
In addition, Darius Scott (22 catches) and Austin Maloney (20 catches) also return.
Yet Davis said the position was open, and the first receiver he praised was Julian Williams, a rising junior who was ineligible last season but started five games in 2015.
Davis also praised Tony Gaiter IV, a rising sophomore who caught 12 passes in nine games last season.
Defensively, one of FIU’s unexpected standouts this spring has been 6-0, 195-pound Bryce Canady, a rising senior from Jacksonville who made the team last season as a walk-on.
Davis moved Canady from cornerback to safety this spring.
And with incumbent starting safeties Niko Gonzalez and Xavier Hines out this spring because of injuries, Canady has stood out.
“When you take a guy who is big and physical enough to play in the box and yet he can cover like a corner … it’s a real blessing,” Davis said of Canady, who got in for just three games last year.
“He’s been a pleasant surprise.”