Quarterback recruit Stone Norton is from Nashville, but it seems like he’s already more Pitbull “Mr. 305” than he is Grand Ole Opry.
On Wednesday, when FIU football coach Butch Davis signed six more recruits, he credited Norton — who officially joined the Class of 2019 in December — with being a Panthers Pied Piper, encouraging athletes to follow him.
“Once we got Stone,” Davis said, “he became a ‘behind the scenes’ recruiting coordinator.”
So far, Davis has 21 players in the class, and he likely isn’t done yet.
Davis has four scholarships remaining. One or two of those may go to walk-ons who have thrived at FIU and are deserving, but Davis will also keep his options open as graduate transfers or other players may become available over the following weeks and months.
One of the biggest areas where the Panthers got help on Wednesday is on the offensive line, where they added guard Sione Finau, a 6-3, 300-pounder from the Dallas area who is of Tongan ancestry; and tackle Shamar Hobdy-Lee, a 6-5, 290-pounder from Tampa Jefferson.
Finau, who also threw the shot put in track, had offers from Air Force, Army and Navy.
“Sione, when you watch that kid play,” Davis said, “he has nimble feet. Maybe he should’ve been a defensive lineman in high school.
“And if you know much about the Polynesian culture — Troy Polamalu, Junior Seau and all those guys — they are legitimately warriors. They are tough, physical, nasty — they bring a mentality that you love to have on your team.”
Of Hobdy-Lee, Davis said: “Shamar is a big, massive, powerful offensive tackle who can run.”
Davis said he inherited a severe lack of linebacker depth when he arrived at FIU in November of 2016. He has attempted to address the issue ever since, and, on Wednesday, he signed Nasir Carter, one of two Orlando players in this class, joining defensive end Nate White.
Carter is also one of three linebackers in this class, including Arkansas transfer Alexy Jean-Baptiste.
FIU on Wednesday also signed defensive back Brian Dillard, who was named the Class 6A State Player of the Year after recording 13 tackles for losses, forcing five fumbles and intercepting three passes. He also scored three touchdowns on defense.
The final two players on the list of Wednesday signees are both listed as “athletes” — 6-3, 240-pound Kamareon Williams, who played tight end at Delray Beach Atlantic; and 6-3, 200-pound Kendre’ Gant, who played wide receiver at Port St. Joe.
Williams caught 20 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns as a senior as his team went 10-1. Gant, who had earlier committed to UCF, caught 47 passes for 960 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior on a team that went 11-1 and reached the state semifinals.
“The kids we signed today,” Davis said, “are going to be outstanding players.”
FIU’S 2019 signing class
QB: Stone Norton, 6-3, 200, Nashville; RB: Lexington Joseph, 5-9, 185, Miami Central; RB: Maleek Williams, 5-11, 225 (transfer from Arkansas); WR: Kris Mitchell, 6-1, 175, Jacksonville Mandarin; WR/ATH: Nate Jefferson, 5-11, 170, Longwood Lyman;WR/ATH: Kendre’ Gant, 6-3, 200, Port St. Joe; TE: Joseph Hocker, 6-5, 245, Cincinnati Deer Park; TE/ATH: Kamareon Williams, 6-3, 240, Delray Beach Atlantic; OG: Logan Gunderson, 6-5 320, ASA Miami (junior college); OG: Sione Finau, 6-3, 300, Texas; C: Julius Pierce, 6-5, 275, Sanford Seminole; OT: Shamar Hobdy-Lee, 6-5, 290, Tampa Jefferson; DE: Ty Danzy, 6-5, 235, South Carolina; DE: Nathan White, 6-4, 220, Orlando Edgewater; LB/RB: Ni’Kendrick Carter, 6-2, 230, Louisiana; LB: Alexy Jean-Baptiste, 6-3, 245 (transfer from Arkansas); LB: Nasir Carter, 6-2, 220, Orlando West Orange; DB: Josh Turner, 6-0, 190 (transfer from Iowa); DB: Brian Dillard, 6-2, 190, Ocala Lake Weir; DB: Deshaun Davis, 6-1, 190, Jacksonville Mandarin; K/P: Tommy Heatherly, 5-11, 210, Oklahoma A&M.