Florida International U

FIU Panthers’ Isame Faciane has recipe for success

Though FIU football involves few seniors this year, they do have at least one player with a shot at being drafted by the NFL, defensive tackle Isame Faciane. So Sunday afternoons are where you might next see Faciane after this season.

There or on the 2015 season of Food Network’s Chopped.

Faciane can cook. He enjoys it. He puts thought behind it. He can play more than a little football, too. You can surmise that’s why Oakland scout Zack Crockett spent about 10 minutes after Tuesday’s practice talking with FIU defensive line coach Andre Patterson, an NFL assistant coach with five teams over 10 seasons. Faciane, 6-5, 295, and fellow senior Greg Hickman anchor what might be the overall strength of FIU’s team.

Patterson thinks Faciane has a “good chance” at the NFL with a good season this year.

“I saw a big, strong, physical football player watching him on tape,” Patterson said. “The thing I’ve found in the last two days of practice is he’s way more athletic than I thought he was. I didn’t know he had the athleticism to change direction and the quick feet that he has.”

If you watched Faciane just last season, you might be more surprised about his potential than his culinary skills. After a strong sophomore season that earned him 2012 preseason All-Sun Belt honors, Faciane might as well have been playing with an arm tied behind his back. He tore a rotator cuff the second week of fall practice.

A one-armed man eluded Richard Kimble for three years on TV and two hours on the movie screen. A one-armed man can’t hide at defensive tackle. Faciane’s tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and blocked passes all fell from his sophomore season.

“I wasn’t making plays I could’ve made if my arm was good,” he said. “I couldn’t shrug off blocks as I could with a good arm.”

To make matters worse, Faciane said he could get treatment only once a week during the season because he had classes at the Biscayne Bay campus after practice. He pushed through the season. Twice, against Troy, he had to be helped off the field with an arm dangling.

“Everything you do is you’ve got to get 300-pound dudes off of you,” Patterson said, “whether to press them off of me or whether to throw them off of me. If you don’t have that strength on your shoulders, that makes it difficult for you. I know that had to be hard for him last year.”

Patterson also said shoulder or pectoral injuries come with the defensive lineman’s job. He estimated 70 percent sustain such injuries to some extent each season, then slog through and get it repaired in the offseason.

“It feels great right now,” Faciane said. “I’ve been rehabbing like crazy this summer.”

Under previous coach Mario Cristobal, FIU established a small presence in the talent-thick New Orleans area starting with Faciane and wide receiver Glenn Coleman in 2010. Now, FIU’s roster includes New Orleans-area defensive linemen Leonard Washington, Marques Cheeks and Darrian Dyson, redshirt sophomore long snapper Brandon Taylor and sophomore wide receiver Raymond Jackson.

In general, ask a football player from Louisiana what he misses about home, and he might name a member of his family (usually a mother or grandmother) and definitely food. Faciane’s no different — his grandmother who raised him and her cooking. So, he began phoning his grandmother to help him recreate her cooking in South Florida.

In the process, he discovered and developed a vast cooking talent. Teammates testify to his culinary talents. Mention Faciane’s cooking to Dyson and see a face tired from practice light up boyishly.

“He makes great food. Especially in the room,” Dyson said. He identified Faciane’s best dish as, “his shrimp pasta and jambalaya from back home.”

Said Faciane: “I want to travel, get new ideas and incorporate them into a Cajun creole New Orleans thing and set it off with different kinds of trends in New Orleans food. I want to see different types of ingredients used in foods, different types of animals that live in specific areas and try to substitute, say, a different type of meat or seafood from another area incorporate it into a New Orleans dish.”

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