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FIU 2018 Outlook: Defensive Backs - Room for improvement in year two under Brent Guy

The numbers are slightly deceiving when looking at the 2017 FIU pass defense. What will they be able to in 2018?

Marshall v Florida International
Isaiah Brown looks to spearhead a revamped defensive backfield for the Panthers in 2018.
Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Previously: Linebacker

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.

Massachusetts v Florida International
Talented Freshman Richard Dames was as good as advertised in 2017.
Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

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.

Central Florida v Florida International
Stantley Thomas-Oliver as an all-conference freshman performer in 2016 as a wide receiver. Can he successfully make the move to cornerback?
Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

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.