Continuing our position by position look at FIU heading into the Fall, let’s take a look at a defensive backfield that loses stalwarts in Niko Gonzalez, Brad Muhammad and Bryce Canady.
Returnees: Isaiah Brown (Jr.) - 6 tackles
Tyree Johnson (Jr.) - 17 tackles and 1 pass defensed
Richard Dames (Soph.) - 36 tackles and 1 pass defensed
Rashard Dames (Soph.) - 1 tackle
Emmanuel Lubin (Sr.) - 18 tackles and 1 pass defensed
Olin Cushion III (Jr.) - 4 tackles and 1 interception
Malik Tyson (R-Soph) - No statistics
Daniel Jackson (Soph) - 6 tackles
JoJo Louis (Jr.) - No statistics
Newcomers: Jamal Anderson (Fr.) - Three-star prospect, Homestead-South Dade
Shamar Munroe (Fr.) - Three-star prospect, Palmetto-Palmetto High
Jesson Walker (Fr.) - Two-star prospect, Rockledge-Rockledge High
Stantley Thomas-Oliver (Jr.) - Switched position from Wide Receiver to Cornerback
Heading into Fall: The numbers don’t tell the entire story for the 2017 Panther defensive backs.
If you subtract four games (UCF, UMass, WKU, Marshall) the pass defense wasn’t that bad. They even won three out of the four aforementioned contests.
However, there’s no way to sugarcoat teams completing 66 percent of their passes against FIU. Good news is the team gets its best cornerback in Isaiah Brown back from missing most of the last season.
Richard Dames was as good as advertised as a freshman and veterans Emmanuel Lubin and Tyree Johnson are also talented. Look for Daniel Jackson to contend for a starting safety position.
A pair of three-star recruits in Jamal Anderson and Shamar Munroe will also have a chance to contribute.
Final Thought: There’s nowhere to go but up for the unit. They should be helped by a strong front-seven that will give them opportunities to make plays. The X-Factor to look for is Thomas-Oliver III.
He had a tremendous freshman season as a receiver.
However, Butch Davis sees him more as a DB and in my opinion he has the athleticism and frame to be a special corner. At 6-2, he’s got great length and already has tremendous ball-skills.
The return of Brown will help and Dames is a very solid player.
Position grade: C+. There’s no denying the talent is there for the unit to make major strides.
But they did five games last year where they gave up 70 percent competition percentage and gave up 65 percent in two others, with one of those games being against FCS Alcorn State.
I think the secondary has something to prove and will respond in 2018.
The addition of Thomas-Oliver has the potential to pay enormous dividends. Their best attribute may be a great front seven that puts the DB’s in position to make plays.