With 21 recruits signed last month and just four football scholarships available for the 2018 recruiting class, FIU coach Butch Davis said his staff is spending a majority of its time looking ahead to 2019.
The next National Signing Day is Feb. 7, but FIU doesn’t figure to be particularly active on that day.
“[FIU assistant coaches are working] 40 percent on 2018 and 60 percent on 2019,” Davis said. “They are out on the road looking at 2019. [For 2018], we want to see if there is anybody out there we can sign who will be an impactful player.
“We know the type of player we want.”
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Indeed, the players already signed fit what Davis seeks — versatile athletes who can play multiple positions and are, in many cases, bigger and faster than the players he already has on campus.
As of now, FIU’s Class of 2018 is ranked 63rd nationally and No. 1 in Conference USA, according to 247 Sports.
FIU’s biggest recruiting wins came at defensive tackle, where Davis signed a pair of four-star junior-college transfers. Davis said FIU beat out some big-time programs to get Tayland Humphrey, a 6-6, 350-pounder from Hutchinson Community College (Kansas), and Teair Tart-Spencer, a 6-4, 295-pounder from East Mississippi CC.
“I’m super confident they’re going to help us [right away],” Davis said. “The dream of any program is to have eight, nine, 10 defensive linemen you can rotate in and out, keeping guys fresh.”
Davis said he tried to do that in 2017 but didn’t quite have the necessary personnel.
This year, Davis will add those two transfers as well as freshman tackle Kameron Burns (6-4, 270) to the mix.
In all, FIU signed nine defensive players, just one defensive back and perhaps two defensive ends away from being able to field a starting lineup made up of 2018 signees.
Davis raved about his linebacker signees, including 6-5, 225-pound Joshua Sanders, who was listed as a defensive end on his December signing day but is another one of those players with positional versatility.
Outside linebacker Rocky Jacques-Louis (6-2, 220) and middle linebacker Donovan Georges (6-1, 240) of Champagnat are the other players in the group.
“Rocky had 67 sacks in high school, and he can fly,” Davis said. “Donovan has unbelievable instincts and is a double-digit tackle guy every game. He is the heir apparent to Anthony Wint [All-Conference USA middle linebacker whose eligibility expired].
“Josh played seven positions in one game — wide receiver, running back, quarterback, linebacker, safety … He’s a really good athlete. Those are the kids I fall in love with because there a million ways they can help you win.”
The biggest key to this defensive class, however, may be in the secondary, where Jamal Anderson (6-2, 180) of South Dade and Shamar Munroe (6-1, 190) of Miami Palmetto were added along with Jesson Walker (6-1, 170).
“We play a lot of teams who go with four wide receivers,” Davis said. “You end up taking linebackers out and using six cornerbacks to match up. The other team’s star receiver may be in the slot, and you can’t a linebacker on him.”
Of the 12 players FIU signed on offense, three are linemen, who typically take longer to develop than a running back or wide receiver.
There is also one quarterback on the list of signees, Caleb Lynum of East Ridge
Davis said Lynum “spins the ball well” and is smart and athletic, but it’s always tough for any true freshman quarterback to be able to learn everything that is required for him to start the opener.
Even so, that leaves eight offensive players who could contribute right away, including running backs Shaun Peterson (Nova) and Demarcus Townsend; and wide receivers Maurquel Dillard (Stranahan); Zahir Turner (Booker T. Washington) and Jordan Underwood.
FIU also signed tight ends Sterling Palmer and David O’Meara and H-back Ivan Thomas (Miami Palmetto).
Davis said Townsend and Peterson are playmakers in the backfield.
“They are complete backs who can handle blitz pickup,” he said. “They also have electric speed and can score from any spot on the field.”
FIU CLASS OF 2018
Position, player, height, weight, school
QB: Caleb Lynum, 6-2, 195, East Ridge
RB: Shaun Peterson, 6-3, 215, Nova
RB: Demarcus Townsend, 5-10, 215, Naples Palmetto Ridge
WR: Maurquel Dillard, 6-0, 185, Stranahan
WR: Jordan Underwood, 6-0, 180, Apopka
WR: Zahir Turner, 5-11, 160, Booker T. Washington
TE: Sterling Palmer, 6-6, 235, Richmond (Virginia)
TE: David O’Meara, 6-5, 245, Tallahassee Chiles
H-back: Ivan Thomas, 6-3, 225, Miami Palmetto
OT: D’Antne Demery, 6-5, 320, Brunswick
OT: Lyndnell Hudson Jr., 6-6, 300, Brooksville Central
OG: John Bolding, 6-3, 315, Spring (Texas)
DT: Tayland Humphrey, 6-6, 350, Hutchinson CC (Kansas)
DT: Teair Tart-Spencer, 6-4, 295, East Mississippi CC.
DT: Kameron Burns, 6-4, 270, Crawfordville Wakulla
DE/OLB: Joshua Sanders, 6-5, 225, Waxahachie (Texas)
OLB: Rocky Jacques-Louis, 6-2, 220, Fort Myers Dunbar
MLB: Donovan Georges, 6-1, 240, Champagnat
DB: Jamal Anderson, 6-2, 180, South Dade
DB: Shamar Munroe, 6-1, 190, Miami Palmetto
DB: Jesson Walker, 6-1, 170, Rockledge