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Examining FIU’s verbal commits for the 2019 recruiting class

The Panthers are looking for a repeat performance of last year’s class which was the best in Conference USA.

Arkansas Pine Bluff v Florida International Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

While FIU is awaiting their season-ending Bahamas Bowl contest against Toledo, the recruiting season is in full swing.

The Panthers currently have 12 players who have given verbal commitments to the program.

“We like to look at kids who may have played certain positions in high school, but potentially may project at a variety of different positions because of how they may fill out in college,” said FIU director of recruiting Bryn Renner.

North Carolina State v North Carolina
Former North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner is Florida International’s Director of Recruiting.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

After character, of particular emphasis for FIU are “position-less” players.

“We’re always looking for high-character kids first and foremost, then we follow that up with what type of athlete are we looking at,” Renner said.

Of the 12 commits, six are from either Jacksonville or Central Florida. Both are areas that FIU is looking to target hard.

“In terms of the state outside of South Florida, we’re looking to target areas like Jacksonville, Central Florida, and Tampa,” Renner said.

FIU currently has seven players on its roster from the four-county Central Florida region (Orange, Lake, Seminole, Volusia).

With the 72-hour early signing period right around the corner on December 19th, let’s take a look at the dozen athletes who are slated to make their way to Miami.

Ni’Kendrick Carter

OLB/RB/Safety, 6-3, 230

Many HS (Many, LA)

247 Ranking: 3-star

About Carter: The commitment of Carter is somewhat of a fluid situation. He gave his verbal to FIU on December 9th after de-committing from SMU on October 23rd. It’s believed that there’s mutual interest between Carter and Oklahoma State University pending a scholarship being available. On the field, he leaves no doubts about his athleticism and talents as a player. He spent his first three seasons as a running back before making the switch to defense this season. Carter is currently the highest rated recruit verbally committed to FIU according to the 247 rating metrics.

Ty Danzy

DE, 6-5, 235

Westside HS (Anderson, SC)

247 Ranking: Not ranked

About Danzy: Danzy is another solid athlete for the Panthers. He averaged 6.1 points per game on the hardwood and added 61 tackles with four sacks on the gridiron for Westside High. On film, he’s a raw talent who has a mountain of upside. He chose FIU over offers from Eastern and Western Kentucky.

Deshaun Davis

S, 6-1, 190

Lee HS (Jacksonville, FL)

247 Ranking: 2-star

About Davis: The Lee High product was the earliest commit of the 2018 cycle, giving his verbal back in July. He’s timed at 4.6 in the 40-yard dash and recorded 47 tackles during his senior season at Lee after transferring from Mandarin High. On film, one thing that’s apparent is Davis knows how to find the football and won’t be a liability in run defense, as he’s an excellent tackler from his safety spot and will excel playing in the box.

Logan Gunderson

OG/OT, 6-5, 318

ASA College Miami (Trinity Christian High, Jacksonville, FL)

247 Ranking: 2-star

About Gunderson: The JUCO product from ASA College in Broward County made the transition to offensive line full-time after spending time at both offensive and defensive line in high school. He brings a winning pedigree having been a part of four state titles at Trinity Christian in Jacksonville. Gunderson is listed as a guard, but has great size and previous experience playing tackle as well. He’ll have a chance to earn playing time with the graduations Kai Absheer, Daquane Wilkie, Neal Mars and Jordan Budwig.

“I’m looking forward to being part of something great,” said Gunderson.

Tommy Heatherly

K/P, 5-11, 210

NE Oklahoma A&M (Grove High, Grove, OK)

247 Ranking: Not ranked

About Heatherly: The strong-legged kicker had to go the JUCO route to develop consistency and conditioning. Heatherly, who’s listed at 210 pounds, lost over 65 pounds before the start of last season in order to handle all of the kicking duties at NEO this past season. With the graduations of Stone Wilson and Sean Young, he’ll have an opportunity to contribute next season.

Joseph Hocker

TE/DE, 6-6, 235

Deer Park HS (Cincinnati, OH)

247 Ranking: 3-star

About Hocker: Hocker is another excellent athlete, scoring touchdowns as a receiver and as a kick returner. He led Deer Park High to a state championship game appearance in basketball and played both as a defensive end and tight end on the football field. He chose FIU over offers from Bowling Green, Eastern Kentucky and Elon. Hocker is another high-character athlete, having been part of a coalition of students at Deer Park who helped classmates with non-academic issues.

Nate Jefferson

ATH/WR, 5-11, 170

Lyman HS (Longwood, FL)

247 Ranking: 3-star

About Jefferson: Jefferson brings a dynamic playmaking ability to FIU and has the potential to contribute immediately, potentially in the kick return game or in a role similar to the one Maurice Alexander holds now. He possesses a sub-4.4 40-yard dash and a 10.9 in the 100-meter dash. The Central Florida native finished his prep career with over 3,500 all-purpose yards in three seasons at Lyman High. Jefferson chose FIU over offers from North Carolina and Iowa State. “As a player I’m a competitor, I try to make others around me better and I’ll work my hardest to provide for my brothers and the Panther community,” said Jefferson.

Lexington Joseph

RB, 5-7, 175

Miami Central HS (Miami, FL)

247 Ranking: 3-star

About Joseph: “Flex” Joseph is the latest in an illustrious list of running backs to come out of Miami Central High. Najeh Davenport, Willis McGahee, Davonta Freeman, Dalvin Cook and current Panther running back Anthony Jones all played for Central. Joseph is on par with all of those players. He rushed for over 1,600 yards in his senior season and chose FIU over offers from multiple power five programs.

Kris Mitchell

WR, 6-1, 175

Mandarin HS (Jacksonville, FL)

247 Ranking: 2-star

About Mitchell: Mitchell chose FIU over offers from South Florida, UConn and UAB. The commitment reunites him with his former high-school teammate in DeShaun Davis. On the field, Mitchell had over 1,000 yards and had seven catches for 118 yards in Mandarin’s state title victory this season. Along with Nate Jefferson, Mitchell will bring the Panthers more elite speed at the receiver position, as he’s clocked at a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash.

Stone Norton

QB, 6-3, 200

Davidson Academy (Nashville, TN)

247 Ranking: 3-star

About Norton: The highly decorated passer comes to FIU as the top rated quarterback recruit in program history. Norton finished his high-school career with 89 touchdown passes to only 15 interceptions, including 43 this season. The recipient of Tennessee’s Mr. Football is an excellent pure-passer and has solid mobility in and around the pocket. Given a year to sit behind current quarterback James Morgan, the Panthers could be great shape at the quarterback position for the foreseeable future. He chose FIU over offers from Temple and Akron. “FIU’s offense is similar to mine at Davidson because it puts a lot on the quarterback in terms of protection and responsiblity,” said Norton.

Julius Pierce

TE, 6-4, 255

Seminole HS (Sanford, FL)

247 Ranking: Not ranked

About Pierce: FIU’s Central Florida pipeline continues with the recruitment of Pierce. The Seminole High product was a teammate of current FIU quarterback Kaylan Wiggins and was recruited by current offensive line coach Allen Mogridge, who spent time at UCF holding the same position. Pierce is another two-sport athlete playing football and basketball. He played tight end this past season, but has spent time on the offensive line and could possibly project there as a Panther.

Nate White

DE, 6-5, 220

Edgewater HS (Orlando, FL)

247 Ranking: 3-star

About White: The 220-pound defensive end had 21 sacks as a senior and helped lead his team to within one game of a state championship in 2018. On tape, he’s another player who has plenty of upside to grow on the field and physically. In terms of character, they may not come any higher than White who for periods of his high school career was living in various shelters with his family.