Florida International U

FIU Panthers honor coach Butch Davis and football team for their victory at bowl game

Butch Davis’ microphone didn’t work properly, but that wasn’t going to stop the determined FIU football coach.

The occasion was Saturday night’s basketball game against Florida Atlantic that drew an FIU-record crowd for a home basketball game of 4,710. At halftime, the FIU football team was honored for its Bahama Bowl victory and a school-record nine-win season.

Davis, holding a malfunctioning mic, spoke to the crowd by, in essence, yelling.

Hey, whatever it takes, which is what Davis has done the past two years, overcoming lots of adversity and winning a total of 17 games for the best run of success in program history.

“The players loved it,” Davis said of the celebration in their honor. “The atmosphere was electric.”

Davis had 31 potential football recruits in attendance at the basketball game — six seniors for the 2019 class that will be eligible to sign on Feb. 6 and the rest of them juniors for the 2020 group.

FIU has brought in 15 players so far for the 2019 class — 11 high school seniors who signed in December, and four transfers who enrolled earlier this month.

Two of the transfers were from the University of Arkansas and one was from Iowa.

“These were Florida kids who wanted to come back home who said they should’ve never gone 2,000 miles away to play,” Davis said.

Davis added that he has “a couple” more recruits scheduled to visit FIU next weekend. He hopes to sign five or six players on Feb. 6 while still leaving one or two scholarships open in case a desirable graduate transfer becomes available after the spring semester.

The big basketball crowd, Davis said, helped him sell recruits on signing to play here.

“This,” Davis said, “was a great day for the FIU football program.”

THIS AND THAT

FIU third baseman Austin Shenton, the postseason MVP of the prestigious Cape Cod League this past summer, has been named a second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America. FIU starts the baseball season Feb. 15 by hosting Stony Brook.

FIU’s Jackie Schoff, a senior outfielder with a .387 career batting average, has been named to the preseason All-Conference USA softball team. She was fourth in the league in hits last year.

Davis announced that FIU’s spring football game will be held April 12 at 6 p.m. Davis also said about 200 students made the trip to the Bahamas Bowl.

When asked about FIU’s men’s basketball program, Davis praised Panthers first-year coach Jeremy Ballard.

“This has nothing to do with me, but when you start hiring coaches who love the kids and are energetic and passionate about their sport — and I think Mervyl [Melendez] is doing the same thing in baseball — you keep getting better and better,” Ballard said. “Jeremy is going to do a great job with this basketball program. It may take a year or two, just like it took us, but he’s going to coach, and he’s going to recruit.”

Contact Walter Villa at wvilla07@yahoo.com.

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