Florida International U

Degrees in hand, FIU Panthers duo seeks glory

Backup QB Trey Anderson throws a pass during FIU practice Monday at Ocean Bank Field.
Backup QB Trey Anderson throws a pass during FIU practice Monday at Ocean Bank Field. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Quarterback Trey Anderson hadn’t heard of FIU until he saw the school on Pitt’s 2014 schedule. Linebacker Jephete Matilus, as you might expect for a player with Power Five schools after him, didn’t take FIU seriously when the school recruited him out of Delray Beach Atlantic High.

But, with one year of college football eligibility remaining after four years at Power Five conference schools, each chose FIU as the place to keep the party going.

The post-graduate, one-year transfer might be college-affiliated football’s version of the NBA or NHL veteran being dealt by request at the trade deadline. If a player completes his bachelor’s degree and a year of eligibility remains, he can transfer to another school with immediate eligibility as long as he enrolls in a graduate program not offered by his first school (See “Wilson, Russell, North Carolina State to Wisconsin”).

FIU expects contributions this year from two players who came via an NCAA rule allowing players with their bachelors degree and eligibility remaining to transfer and play immediately. Video by David J. Neal / Miami Herald Staff

Matilus’ graduate school classes are in sports management after he had a communications major with a business minor at Minnesota. Anderson’s going to graduate school in recreation and sports management after getting an undergraduate degree in communications at Pitt.

And Anderson might be an FIU graduate assistant next year.

“He wants to be a coach. He’ll be very good,” FIU coach Ron Turner said. “I asked Jephete if he wanted to coach — ‘If you want to be a GA, you’ve got a spot here’ — [but] he doesn’t want to coach. Trey does. If he wants to be GA, there’s a very good chance he’ll have a spot here as well.”

Anderson said, “Me wanting to be a coach helped out a lot [with choosing FIU]. Learning from Coach Turner has helped out tremendously. It felt like a good fit.”

Also, he said, “I’ve always been a fan of change. Being from Houston and going to Pittsburgh was completely different for me. After four years, I felt like I had experienced a lot at Pitt, a lot of great memories, but just felt like I was ready for something new. Coming to Miami is a completely different experience for me.”

FIU could use even Anderson’s limited experience (eight games, 25 of 53 passing, 263 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, 40 yards on 11 carries). Those eight games give Anderson an 8-0 playing time edge on the other quarterbacks — redshirt freshman Bud Martin, freshmen Christian Alexander and Maurice Alexander — behind sophomore starter Alex McGough.

Turner intends to get Anderson up to speed for backup quarterback duty.

“Great in the room,” Turner said. “He’s been excellent for Alex and all the quarterbacks. He brings a maturity that we didn’t have last year. Alex is more mature than he was a year ago. So is Bud. But Trey’s helping out a lot. He’s been in several different systems with different coordinators.”

Minnesota recruited Metilus as a linebacker, switched him to fullback and wanted him to stay there for his senior season. Metilus wanted his main job, other than special teams, to be linebacker, although he said he told the coaching staff he would do spot duty at fullback if needed.

So, he decided to transfer. Metilus found the University of North Dakota similar to Minnesota. He knew special teams coordinator Shawn Kostich from Kostich working with Minnesota’s special teams, on which Metilus played, from 2011-13. With nobody else offering anything late in the winter, Metilus decided on North Dakota.

“After spring ball, phone calls started piling in. I decided if I’m going to leave out of state, I might as well come back home,” Metilus said. “Friends and family went a lot into the decision. Yes, the desire to keep football going, but from the offensive to the defensive side of the ball.”

Also, his special teams play would be attractive to Turner, one of the few college coaches who makes sure he has a dedicated special teams coordinator (Shannon Moore) on staff.

Turner said, “He’s backing up right now. He’ll be a very valuable core person on special teams. He’ll play some mike linebacker. He’s smart. He could play all three positions at linebacker. He will definitely have a big role.”

Metilus often lines up next to converted safety Vontarius West on the second-team defense with redshirt sophomore Jordan Guest on the other side. Freshman Anthony Wint runs with the first team. Similar to Anderson, Metilus brings old eyes.

“More of a leadership role,” Metilus said of where he sees himself fitting. “I’m a fifth-year senior. I’ve been through a program already. Some of the guys in the linebacker room are younger guys. I’m not here to steal any reps or anything like that.

“Any way I can contribute on the field, defensively and special teams, I’ll accept that role.”

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