Florida International U

Change of heart lands Butch Davis, FIU a quarterback for Signing Day

Football coach Butch Davis will secure his first recruiting Feb. 1 when National Signing Day begins.
Football coach Butch Davis will secure his first recruiting Feb. 1 when National Signing Day begins. AP

Tulane’s loss might be FIU’s gain.

Kaylan Wiggins, a 6-3, 200-pound quarterback who led Sanford Seminole High to a 12-1 record and a berth in the Class 8A state semifinals, leads a group of 24 players who have orally committed to FIU’s football program. Oral commitments are non-binding, but players are eligible to sign with the colleges of their choice as of Feb. 1.

Wiggins had committed to Tulane before the Green Wave, who went 4-8 in their first year under coach Willie Fritz, rescinded their scholarship offer in late October.

“They said they wanted to get a junior college quarterback who could make a more immediate impact,” Wiggins said of Tulane, which signed junior college passer Jonathan Banks.

Soon after Tulane dropped Wiggins, he was contacted by FIU. And once Butch Davis was hired in mid-November, Wiggins got an FIU offer, which he accepted.

“Coach Davis wants to change the program,” Wiggins said. “He wants to build a championship program, and that’s what I want, too.”

Wiggins could be a good place for FIU to start. He was a three-year starter at Seminole, which improved from 3-7 his first year to 6-4 as a junior before a stellar run in 2016, which ended in a 37-34 double-overtime loss to Orlando Dr. Phillips.

Only a field-goal attempt that clanked off an upright kept that game from going further. Even so, Wiggins had three TD passes and also ran for a score.

Wiggins has been a quarterback his entire football career. He comes from a football family — his father and brother are on the Seminole coaching staff.

But once Don Stark took over as the head coach in 2016, he wanted Wiggins to become more of a pocket passer, and his plan worked.

Wiggins, who has been timed at 4.56 in the 40-yard dash, still ran the ball, but only when he felt there was no play to be made with his arm.

“He was able to show he could deliver the ball,” Stark said. “His ceiling is very high because of his athleticism, arm strength, accuracy and football IQ.

“Once [Davis] and his staff get a chance to work with him, he’s going to be special.”

And that begs the question: Can Davis’ first recruiting class at FIU be special?

Here’s a closer look at the list:

▪ All 24 recruits are from Florida, including 20 from Miami-Dade and Broward counties. There’s just one junior college player, defensive tackle Dereck Boles.

▪ Of the 24 recruits, 13 committed before Davis was hired.

▪ Four of the recruits are from Miami’s Booker T. Washington High, which makes sense since that team is coached by Ice Harris. His son, Tim, is a running backs coach at FIU.

▪ FIU does not have a tight end or center on the list, which is noteworthy because two of the top seniors on the 2016 Panthers played those positions. That would be tight end Jonnu Smith and center Michael Montero. However, FIU has two players on the current roster who are poised to fill those voids: center Neal Mars and tight end A.J. Branisel.

▪ Two of FIU’s recruits, Shemar Thornton of Hallandale and DeAndre Williams of Booker T., are listed as “athletes”. If they end up playing cornerback as opposed to wide receiver that would give FIU 15 defensive recruits and nine on offense. As it stands, there are only two defensive backs on FIU’s list.

FIU FOOTBALL 2017 COMMITMENTS

Position: Name, Height/Weight, School

QB: Kaylan Wiggins, 6-3, 200, Sanford Seminole

RB: D’Vonte Price, 6-2, 195, Punta Gorda Charlotte

FB: Hunter Moreno, 6-2, 225, Miami Columbus

WR: Jonathan Moore, 5-7, 170, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas

WR: Shimoore Stern, 6-5, 205, Pembroke Pines Flanagan

OG: Mike Crespo, 6-3, 320, Doral Reagan

OG: Mershawn Miller, 6-2, 325, Miami Central

OG: Willa Pierre, 6-3, 290, Miami Booker T.

OT: Deondre Chambers, 6-2, 270, Miramar

DE: Kevin Oliver, 6-4, 255, Davie Western

DE: Tevin Jones, 6-3, 210, Miami Norland

DE: Frendy Darelus, 6-5, 220, Fort Lauderdale Dillard

DE: Noah Curtis, 6-6, 225, Delray American Heritage

DT: Dereck Boles, 6-2, 295, Coffeyville (Kansas) JC

DT: Rashad Colson, 6-5, 295, Miami Norland

OLB: Robert McWilliams, 6-3, 195, Coral Gables

OLB: Brandon James, 6-2, 200, Miami Southridge

OLB: Romelo Brooks, 6-0, 210, Miami Killian

ILB: Terry Slaughter, 6-0, 200, Carol City

ILB: Cornell Jones, 6-2, 225, Miami Central

CB: Richard Dames, 5-11, 155, Booker T.

CB: Rishard Dames, 5-10, 155, Booker T.

ATH: Shemar Thornton, 6-0, 170, Hallandale

ATH: DeAndre Williams, 6-0, 165, Booker T.

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