Look at Honolulu.
If FIU Panthers football fans are looking for what’s possible, check out the University of Hawaii, which finished 0-12 in 1998 under head coach Fred Vonnappen. The following year, Jon Jones took over as coach, and the Rainbow Warriors won 9-4 by defeating Oregon State at the Oahu Bowl. This season marks the greatest transformation in NCAA history.
The Financial Intelligence Unit, which began its fall practice on Monday, has a similar opportunity.
The Panthers lost 18 games in a row to FBS, finishing last season 1-11 overall. In December, Mike McIntyre began working to replace Butch Davis as a trainer for the Financial Intelligence Unit.
MacIntyre brought in 50 new players — 31 under scholarship and 19 careers — in a bid to start a program that was expected to finish last in its 11-team league, the Conference USA.
“FIU is the fourth largest school in America, and we’ve only played football for 20 years (this season),” said MacIntyre, an all-time optimist. “We have untapped potential. There are a few fires burning, and we have to pour gasoline on them.”
The FIU is not without talent.
Wide receiver Tyrese Chambers is an all-league first-team player having finished second nationally last season in averaging yards per reception (23.9).
Chambers picked up 45 passes for 1,074 yards and nine touchdowns. Arenas and TDs are new program records, smashing what former NFL star TY Hilton accomplished.
Four other FIU players are on Conference USA’s patrol watch list: Rivaldo Fairweather Court End; forward Lyndell Hudson Jr.; defensive line Davon Strickland; And kick back Lexington Joseph.
The center-back position remains open, as former Duke player Gunnar Holmberg battles the largely untested duo of Grayson James and Haden Carlson.
In retrospect, 2021 rookie D’vonte Price attempts to build the Indianapolis Colts roster, and Joseph is the lead candidate to replace him.
Joseph showed what he could do in last season’s final against southern Mississippi, carrying 16 times for his career best 105 yards and one touchdown. Joseph is also a threat to the special teams, as he will be making a run for relegation in 2020.
Fairweather can develop into a threat at a court end. In 10 games over the past two years, he has racked up 26 catches with a healthy 15.8 yards and two hits. Now he has to put all his skills together in one whole season.
Hudson, who started all 12 of FIU’s games last season with a correct tackle, leads the offensive line.
Last season Strickland led the FII in dealing with losses (six) and sacks (three). He also finished third on the team in tackles with a score of 53, all of which is harder to do than defensive tackle, with double blocks being more common.
Donovan Manuel – along with Chambers – represented the Financial Intelligence Unit at the Media Day conference in the USA, which says a lot about his leadership ability. Manuel is a very good linebacker as well, leading East Tennessee State with 124 tackles last year.
In the special teams, FIU has kicker Chase Gabriel and resister Jordan Dowling.
In his two years at FIU, Gabriel achieved 64.7 percent of his field goals (11 for 17), including his 53-yard long. Dowling, who is from Australia, replaces Tommy Heatherley, who is now trying to make up the Dolphin roster.
Other than these key players, the FIU will consider some transfers – another Manuel – for immediate assistance. Candidates to become impact transmissions include wide receivers Scharrod Johnson (Syracuse) and Jacoby Hewitt (India); tight end Josiah Miamin (Iowa); defensive line player Latari Kinsler (Syracuse); linebacker Luke Knox (Ole Miss); Khaya Wright (Georgia Tech) and Alex Nobles (North Carolina); Defensive back Adrian Cole (Syracuse).
this and that
▪ Seven former FII players on current NFL rosters: price; Heatherly. tight end Juno Smith (Patriots); Defensive Tackle Teair Tart (Titans); defensive back Ike Brown (Raiders); Josh Valentine-Turner (Sea Hawks); and Stanley Thomas Oliver (Panthers).
▪ Strickland said he is graduating on Tuesday with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology.
This story was originally published August 1, 2022 4:36 pm.
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