Florida International U

Butch Davis pleased with FIU’s 2017 class, assembled on short notice

Special to the Miami Herald

Receiver Deandre Williams (3) is one of four FIU recruits from Booker T. Washington, along with offensive lineman Willa Pierre, and cornerbacks Richard Dames and Rishard Dames.
Receiver Deandre Williams (3) is one of four FIU recruits from Booker T. Washington, along with offensive lineman Willa Pierre, and cornerbacks Richard Dames and Rishard Dames. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Next year’s recruiting class should be better.

That’s not to say there’s anything necessarily wrong with the list of 20 football recruits released on Wednesday by Butch Davis. It’s just that Davis, hired as FIU’s coach on Nov. 15, had to scramble to put this group together.

“Our assistant coaches did a fantastic job,” Davis said. “We had three weeks in December and three weeks in January to go out and build relationships that sometimes take a year or more.

“I’m very pleased with this class.”

Of the 20 recruits, 11 are on defense, but Davis said it was important that every area was covered. There is no pure tight end, and FIU graduated its biggest star at that position, Jonnu Smith. But Davis got Coastal Carolina graduate transfer A.J. Sattinger, who is listed as an H-back and could play tight end.

Here’s a closer look at the players FIU is bringing in:

▪ Quarterback: Kaylan Wiggins is a running-type QB who refined his passing ability as a senior under new Sanford Seminole coach Don Stark.

Wiggins, whose father and brother are assistant coaches at his high school, led Seminole to the Class 8A state semifinals, putting up big numbers along the way.

At FIU, Wiggins will start out behind senior and three-year starter Alex McGough as well as promising redshirt sophomore Christian Alexander.

▪ Running back: The Panthers, in good shape with senior Alex Gardner and junior Anthony Jones, added D’Vonte Price to the mix.

▪ Wide receiver: Bryce Singleton, who is from Hilton Head, South Carolina, is the only FIU recruit not based in Florida. FIU also signed Shermar Thornton from Hallandale and Deandre Williams, one of four recruits from Booker T. Washington.

Thornton, a first-team All-Broward selection, had six interceptions last season and could be used in the secondary.

▪ Tight end: Sattinger caught 13 touchdown passes in his prep career at Clearwater’s Countryside High, where he was a three-star recruit and the nation’s 28th-best tight end.

“He is a little more of an athletic guy,” Davis said of Sattinger, who the Panthers hope can also play fullback and win matchups against bigger players who lack his quickness. “He will be here for spring ball and will end up getting a Master’s degree.

”That was a good get for us.”

▪ Offensive line: The Panthers added a pair of first-team All-Dade linemen in Willa Pierre and Mershawn Miller. They also signed Cody Bowes, a second-team All-Dade player, who is from state champion Southridge. Bowes had been considering Florida Atlantic before deciding on FIU three days ago.

▪ Defensive line: Kevin Oliver, one of four signees at this position, could be a steal for FIU. The defensive end produced 17 sacks as a senior and made first-team All-Broward out of Western.

▪ Linebackers: The Panthers signed four players here, including first-team All-Dade star Brandon James of Southridge. Romelo Brooks of Killian made second-team All-Dade.

FIU will need these linebackers to add muscle and size. Brooks only weighs 200 pounds. James is listed at 6-3, 205 but said Wednesday he’s actually 6-2, 180.

And another linebacker signee, 6-5, 190-pounder Dorian Hall, has even more work to do in the weight room.

▪ Defensive backs: Twins Richard and Rishard Dames, who both made first-team All-Dade while playing for Booker T. Washington, leads a position group that also includes Jacob White of Punta Gorda Charlotte. Rishard, who had six interceptions last season, may be the biggest playmaker of the group.

FIU signees

Player, position



Kaylan Wiggins, QB

Sanford Seminole

6-2, 195

D’Vonte Price, RB

Punta Gorda Charlotte

6-3, 195

A.J. Sattinger, RB

Coastal Carolina

6-2, 225

Shemar Thornton, WR


6-0, 170

DeAndre Williams, WR

Booker T. Washington

6-0, 165

Bryce Singleton, WR

South Carolina

6-0, 185

Cody Bowes, OL


6-4, 275

Mershawn Miller, OL


6-2, 325

Willa Pierre, OL

Booker T. Washington

6-3, 290

Kevin Oliver, DE


6-4, 250

Tevin Jones, DE


6-4, 215

Noah Curtis, DE

Delray American Heritage

6-6, 230

Rashad Colson, DT


6-6, 295

Brandon James, LB


6-2, 205

Romelo Brooks, LB


6-0, 200

Dorian Hall, LB

South Broward

6-5, 190

Jamal Gates, LB

Palm Beach Dwyer

6-2, 220

Richard Dames, CB

Booker T. Washington

5-11, 175

Rishard Dames, CB

Booker T. Washington

5-11, 175

Jacob White, DB

Punta Gorda Charlotte

6-0, 170