FIU coach Butch Davis is like the guy wraps up most of his Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving.
The Panthers secured 21 recruits in December’s early signing period and added just one more on Wednesday, 6-4, 240-pound left-side defensive end Jason Mercier, a skilled pass-rusher.
In addition, quarterback James Morgan will officially join the FIU program after graduating from Bowling Green in May, but Davis will keep his final two scholarships in his back pocket, just in case a player he covets becomes available, perhaps as a transfer.
In the meantime, here’s a quick look at FIU’s 23 commitments in this Class of 2018:
▪ Position best fortified: FIU signed two junior-college defensive tackles who are all but guaranteed to contribute right away: Tayland Humphrey and Teair Tart-Spencer. Both are four-star players – FIU’s highest-ranked recruits in this class.
▪ Strength of the class: Its balance — FIU addressed virtually every position.
▪ Immediate impact: Morgan, who is set to earn a Bachelor’s degree in pre-law in just three years, is certainly smart enough to quickly learn the offense. He has college experience as a starter and a strong shot at winning the QB job by opening night.
▪ Redshirt candidates: Freshman QB Caleb Lynum might be best served to sit out a year to learn the offense. In addition, all three offensive linemen are redshirt candidates due to the intricacies of the position.
▪ Best offensive playmaker: Shaun Peterson, a 6-3, 215-pound running back from Nova is a candidate – he punishes tacklers. Wide receiver Zahir Turner, a game-breaker from Booker T. Washington, qualifies. But the choice is H-back Ivan Thomas, a potential mismatch against linebackers or defensive backs because of his speed and size.
▪ Best defensive playmaker: Jamal Anderson, a cornerback with great size at 6-2, was a key part of a supremely talented South Dade secondary. Middle linebacker Donovan Georges has a chance to immediately replace graduated starter Anthony Wint. Joshua Sanders, at 6-5, 225, is a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. But the choice is outside linebacker Rocky Jacques-Louis, a sack-master since his high school days.