Florida International U

These two quarterbacks are emerging as leading contenders to start at FIU

Quarterback James Morgan officially joined the FIU program after graduating from Bowling Green in May.
Quarterback James Morgan officially joined the FIU program after graduating from Bowling Green in May. Getty Images

In a bit of surprise, FIU football coach Butch Davis has told the Miami Herald that fourth-year junior Christian Alexander has “clearly separated” himself from the pack and will enter fall at the top of list in terms of the Panthers’ quarterback position.

But Davis also made it clear that Alexander will have to beat out Bowling Green graduate transfer James Morgan, who enrolled at FIU last month.

It has been a busy offseason at the all-important quarterback position for FIU.

Alex McGough, FIU’s four-year starter, graduated and was drafted in the seventh round by the Seattle Seahawks. His primary backup, Maurice Alexander (no relation to Christian), told FIU coaches he wanted to play wide receiver — and his wish was granted.

In addition, redshirt freshman Kaylan Wiggins and true freshmen Caleb Lynum will compete for playing time but need more development.

Here’s a closer look at FIU’s quarterback position:

Christian Alexander, who is from Lakeland Christian, is a surprise at this point – but not that he doesn’t have talent. It’s just that he has yet to start a college game.

His career numbers at FIU are good, including 24 completions in 39 attempts (61.5 percent) for 266 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

He has impressive size at 6-3 and 225 pounds, and he showed mobility in high school, rushing for 452 yards and three touchdowns in 2014.

FIU Panthers head coach Butch Davis speaks to the media after the FIU Panthers lose to Temple Owls 28-3 at the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on Thursday, December 21, 2017.

Alexander had a good spring game for FIU in April, completing 7 of 11 passes for 89 yards.

“Christian’s arm strength is good,” Davis said. “What we to see is him make the same leap [McGough] made in terms of decision-making.”

Morgan starts out a bit behind Alexander, who has had two years of spring practice in Davis’ system as well as one year of fall football.

But Morgan’s intelligence should help him. After all, he is a pre-law student and graduated from Bowling Green in just three years.

Morgan, who has great size at 6-5 and 225 pounds, also has much more college football playing time compared to Alexander. Morgan has 13 college starts, and he set the Bowling Green freshman record with 16 touchdown passes.

That year, he had four straight games in which he passed for more than 250 yards, which is another Bowling Green freshman record.

“He’s a pro-style guy who fits what we do here,” Davis said. “His tape from his game against Michigan State was extremely impressive.”

Morgan, who told The Herald he is a “football junkie” who loves studying film and working extra at practice, has already been well accepted by his new teammates, including Christian Alexander.

Davis described Maurice Alexander, who this spring was the only quarterback on the roster who had started even one FIU game, as “dynamic and charismatic.”

But after spring practice, Alexander — who started four games for the Panthers in 2016 — told Davis he wanted to switch to a wide receiver.

As it turns out, it was a move Davis had wanted to make, as well.

“He beat us to the punch,” Davis said. “He realized we are not a gun-run team, but he’s a very good athlete. He can help our team with this position change. I love his unselfish attitude. He wants to play and contribute.”

At 5-11 and 180 pounds, Alexander was never going to have the size that many coaches prefer from their quarterback. Alexander, a former star at Miami’s Booker T. Washington, is athletic enough to play receiver, and Davis mentioned former FIU star T.Y. Hilton, who is now in the NFL, as the type of player Alexander plans to emulate.

But with just two years of eligibility remaining, he will have to learn quickly to earn playing time ahead of receivers such as Bryce Singleton, CJ Worton, Austin Maloney, Shemar Thornton, Tony Gaiter, Darius Scott and Jordan Underwood.

Wiggins put up decent numbers in the spring game, going 8-for-13 for 68 yards. Wiggins had the scrimmage’s only TD pass.

Lynum, who arrives in the fall, will likely take a redshirt season to learn FIU’s offense.

THIS AND THAT

The Butch Davis Football Camps, which run June 7, 9, 12 and 14 as well as July 28, have increased in popularity, the coach said. Last year, FIU had access to three fields, and the camps drew about 28 teams. “We may have to cap it at 64 teams this time,” Davis said. “These camps have really jump-started our program.”

For more information: www.coachdaviscamps.com.

FIU’s men’s basketball team signed 6-1 point guard Cameron Corcoran, a native of Gainesville who grew up in Orlando. He has three years of eligibility remaining after averaging 6.7 points last season at Arkansas-Little Rock. As a transfer, he has to sit out the upcoming season.

“Blessed to play in my state,” Corcoran said on his Twitter page. “God doesn’t make mistakes.”

Corcoran made 42.6 percent of his three-pointers last season as well as 77.8 percent on free throws. He is the second signing by new FIU coach Jeremy Ballard, joining 6-3 guard Marcus Burwell. Both Corcoran and Burwell join FIU with reputations as skilled shooters.

FIU signed 6-1 guard Cameron Corcoran (Orlando, Florida/UALR/Orlando Christian Prep) to an athletics-grant-in-aid. He becomes the second addition for coach Jeremy Ballard during his inaugural signing class, joining 6-3 guard Marcus Burwell from Richmond, Virginia, who inked with the Panthers in late May.

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