Florida International U

Learning the playbook is as easy as 1-2-3 for FIU lineman Jordan Budwig

FIU freshman left guard Jordan Budwig plans to major in accounting then become a Certified Public Accountant as his mother is. Budwig says he always maintains at least a 3.0 GPA and is good with numbers, so that’s as logical as, well, accounting.

Or, as logical as how Budwig wound up at FIU or why he might wind up starting at left guard Aug. 31 when FIU opens at Maryland.

Budwig’s been taking practice reps with the first team this week.

“We run a complex system, a lot more complex than high school,” Budwig said. “It took me a week-and-a-half to get adjusted. The hard work seemed to pay off. Nothing’s set in stone, of course.”

FIU coach Ron Turner, who said he hopes to settle on a starting lineup by Tuesday, professes no problems with starting freshmen.

“I told them all when I recruited them, I told them all the first day, ‘I don’t care whether you’re a freshman or a senior. The guys who are performing on the field are the guys who are going to play,’” Turner said. “We’ll see where we are, but he’s getting some looks. He’s doing a good job. He’s earned it.”

Looking at the 6-4, 330-pound Fort Lauderdale University School graduate — with a massive base supporting an enormous thick-limbed upper body — it’s easy to envision him getting significant playing time this year.

Listening to him, it’s easy to envision him as an accountant or something exacting. Budwig speaks in clear lines and right angles.

Budwig had heard from FIU, but didn’t have an offer on the table when the school fired former coach Mario Cristobal in December. FIU’s recruiting stalled from then until Turner and his staff were hired in early January.

The offensive line was losing four starters. The junior college offensive line recruits the Cristobal staff planned to bring in had headed elsewhere, meaning Turner’s staff needed to nail down some freshmen offensive linemen.

“When Coach Turner came in, they sat down and started recruiting me hard because they had a weakness at offensive line,” Budwig said. “I came down here on my visit and I absolutely loved it. The NFL coaching style, these guys are serious.

“We’re running the same camp schedule they used for the Buccaneers last year. It’s an NFL system with NFL coaches and they expect perfection out of every step, every play. That was the big deal for me. Other than being close to home, playing in front of family and friends. I just saw myself fitting here better than I did at Western Kentucky [Budwig’s other finalist].”

Budwig came in, like most freshmen, working with the third team. Redshirt junior second-team center Michael Montero got hurt the first week of training camp. Junior college transfer Byron Pinkston moved from left guard to center, opening a second-team spot for Budwig behind redshirt junior guard Delmar Taylor.

Saturday, the second-team offense faced the first-team defense for a few possessions. That put Budwig against seniors Isame Faciane and Greg Hickman, the players drawing a daily stream of NFL scouts to practice.

“Both our D-tackles are NFL prospects,” Budwig said. “Obviously, that’s a dream for me. Because, if I can handle them, I can handle anybody.”

When Budwig first lined up against the seniors Saturday, they treated the freshman like the swinging door leading to a kitchen of gumbo. Budwig hung in well enough, however, to be moved up to the first team during Monday’s practice. That’s where he’s been this week.

Turner likes his football instincts, intelligence and strength potential.

“You always have to have confidence in yourself, think you’re better than the guy in front of you and not back down from anybody,” Budwig said. “Because the guy in front of me is a junior, I wasn’t thinking they were going to hand me a starting spot. I’d have to work for everything I’d get. You put in the hard work, most of the time it pays off.”

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