Coming off of an early signing period that saw FIU add 12 players, the feeling was that they would use some of their available scholarships on transfers.
“We’re looking to keep a few scholarships in the holster, because we feel like the JUCO and transfer market is going to be an option for us,” said FIU’s director of recruiting Bryn Renner when I spoke to him on Early Signing Day.
Butch Davis’ staff did indeed hit the transfer market, adding running back Maleek Williams and linebacker Alexy Jean-Baptiste to the roster.
The move brings both players back to their home state of Florida.
Williams, who spent the majority of the season as a reserve to Rakeem Boyd, rushed for 144 yards on 27 carries in 2018. His best performance as a Razorback coming against North Texas, when ran for 74 yards in Arkansas’ 44-17 loss to the C-USA opponent.
The 6’0, 225-pound back was high-school teammates with current Panthers Jacob White, D’Vonte Price and Stantley Thomas-Oliver III at Charlotte High in Punta Gorda.
He was graded as a four-star prospect in the 2017 recruiting cycle by ESPN and was signed by former Razorback Head Coach Bret Bielema, who was dismissed following Williams’ redshirt season.
Williams will bring speed and additional depth to an already talented Panther backfield and has two years of eligibility remaining.
Jean-Baptiste is a South Florida native, who was a three-star recruit coming out of Coconut Creek high in Pompano Beach.
At 6’3, 245 pounds, he brings size and speed similar to that of Ed Freeman, when he transferred to FIU from Texas last season. Jean-Baptiste is clocked at 4.49 in the 40-yard-dash and has the ability to play linebacker or rush off of the edge.
Like Williams, he was also a Bielema recruit who saw playing time sparingly under both Bielema and current Razorback coach Chad Morris.
He played in one game during his injury-riddled time at Arkansas, where he recorded two tackles and half of a tackle for loss against Eastern Illinois.
A broken foot caused him to miss all of 2017, where he was projected to be the backup weak-side linebacker, while numerous other injures slowed him in 2018.