Just short of the Florida Keys, that’s where you’ll find Anthony Wint’s family, all of them living within walking distance of each other in the Homestead area.
At the opposite end of Miami Dade County, just short of the Broward County line, that’s where you can meet Treyvon Williams’ loved ones, who live in the large shadow of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
On the FIU football team, Wint and Williams have much in common — they are 22-year-old senior starting linebackers who are considered among the best in Conference USA. Both made second-team preseason all-league honors this fall.
“They are guys you feel lucky to come into a program and get the chance to coach,” said Brent Guy, FIU’s first-year defensive coordinator.
Williams, who wears No. 52, led FIU with 109 tackles last year. Wint, who wears No. 53, was second with 108 tackles. And both made 6.5 tackles for losses.
On Saturday in Houston, FIU (1-1) will visit Rice (1-2, 1-0) in the Panthers’ league opener.
The Rice Owls’ offense features deception, and that’s why FIU will rely on Wint, who patrols the middle, and Williams, who normally lines up across from the tight end.
“Through film study, in their last game, we saw [Rice] use 30 or 40 different formations,” Williams said. “They do a lot of motions and shifts. We have to keep our eyes focused.”
Wint also said “eye discipline” will be key.
“Every single game, there’s not a play where they don’t shift or motion or block someone back,” Wint said. “It all has to do with your eyes. Know what your assignment is, what your gap is and stay true to that.”
Williams, who is on course to earn a Bachelor’s degree in recreation and sports management in December and dreams of becoming a sports agent, grew up playing for the Scott Lake Vikings.
He took up football at age 11 and starred at Miami Norland but wasn’t in great shape when he reported to FIU as a freshman.
He is 5-11 and 220 pounds now but was at least 10 pounds heavier back then.
“I remember him in the  spring game back when we had the cut-off shirts, and he had his belly out,” Wint said of Williams. “And I was like, ’52 is a monster.’
“He was a chubby linebacker. But I knew he could hit hard, and I was ready to play with him.”
Williams now has 27 starts under his belt, which no longer hides a big belly. He’s in shape, and Guy wants to use him more to rush the quarterback.
“He’s so quick and explosive,” Guy said. “As a blitzer off the edge, he’s pretty effective.”
Williams has improved his 40-yard-dash time from 4.9 to 4.71, and he said he slipped on that latter timing, meaning there is room for more growth.
Wint said he loves his teammate’s attitude.
“He plays the game angry,” Wint said. “He’s aggressive.”
Wint, who is 5-11 and 235 pounds, came in with a different body type as compared with Williams. Wint weighed 215 pounds but has added muscle weight since his freshman year.
After beginning his career at age seven with the Florida City Razorbacks, Wint starred for Homestead High and has already made 35 starts for FIU.
While FIU wants to let Williams loose on the perimeter, Wint is the rock of the defense, diagnosing plays as they develop.
“He’s a very intelligent player,” Guy said of Wint, who is also graduating in December, with a degree in business. “You can correct him on film, and he can go out there, stack blocks and make plays.”
Saturday: FIU at Rice
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.; Rice Stadium, Houston.
TV/radio: No TV; WAXY 790.
Favorite: Rice by 2 1/2.
Records: FIU 1-1 (0-0 C-USA); Rice 1-2 (1-0 C-USA).
Series: Rice leads 1-0.
FIU injuries: Out — RB Anthony Jones (knee).
Rice injuries: Questionable — OL Kenneth Thompson (leg); CB V.J. Banks (leg); QB Sam Glaesmann (shoulder); RB Samuel Stewart (undisclosed). Out — WR Aston Walter (shoulder); D’Angelo Ellis (wrist).