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FIU Football: 2022 Early Signing Day Recap

Mike MacIntyre’s first full recruiting period at FIU opens with 20 signees.

Exactly one year ago, Mike MacIntyre was less than two weeks into his tenure at the helm of the Panthers and his recruiting efforts were just as much focused on stopping the attrition of FIU’s roster as they were scouring the South Florida high school landscape.

One year later, his first full Early Signing Day class features nine players from the tri-county area, 11 three-star prospects — and a record-breaking multi-time State Championship quarterback.

“The future is bright — lights out,” yelled MacIntyre as he took the podium for FIU’s Early Signing Day presser — followed by Panthers’ communications staffer Dan Forcella flipping the lights in the presser room on and off.

The “lights out” move was a reference to MacIntyre and his staff being able to secure a commitment from Miami Central signal-caller Keyone Jenkins — nicknamed ““lights out”, who had been committed to Auburn — but chose FIU on Wednesday.

“We’re excited about this signing class and we’re excited about the legacy of Keyone Jenkins and all of the players that we signed today,” said MacIntyre.

“I have to thank our entire staff, including recruiting coordinator Cam DiFede, who works tirelessly especially during recruiting season,” said MacIntyre.

In total, 20 players signed with the Panthers — headlined by several rising prospects who held offers from Power Five programs and a quartet of transfer portal additions who should contribute immediately at FIU. Also, nine players will join the program in time for the early session.

Despite losing only four seniors to graduation, the Panthers have the luxury of additional spots on their roster due to several medical disqualifications and players who have chosen to enter the transfer portal.

“We’re going to have some spots available because we had quite a few medical (disqualifications) and we’ll get a few more here when the first (of the year) hits as well,” said MacIntyre.

When MacIntyre took over in December of 2021, FIU had less than 65 players on the roster due to graduations and players entering the transfer portal. With a full roster, MacIntyre noted the difference in being able to recruit for wants opposed to having to fill needs across the board.

“Last year, we got in so late that we were just scrambling to get to 85, whereas this year we can say we want this many people at this position,” said MacIntyre. “We can also take into account the class and say we have this many in this class, this many that we anticipate in the next class and then as we have attrition in each class, go to the portal and get a guy.”

With the transfer portal filled with players, MacIntyre shed some insight into his long-term philosophy of managing the portal while still being able to recruit the South Florida high school landscape.

“The goal is to build a program and not a team, we of course want a competitive team each year, but I want to build a program that we can build and we don’t have to gamble and the whole season depends on how well we do in the transfer portal,” said MacIntyre.

With the February signing day looming, MacIntyre notes that the program will continue to assess the roster — as well as others around the country in an effort to shape their next roster moves.

“With the new rule where you don’t have to stop at 25 signees, you just need to be at 85 players in August, it’s really a moving target until August,” said MacIntyre.

Here’s a look at the 20 new additions to FIU.

Jamari Holliman - ATH (Miami Norland/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Holliman: The top-rated signee in the early period for the Panthers, per the 247 Sports rankings, Holliman held the aforementioned offer from Colorado before visiting FIU on December 9 and committing that weekend. Longtime South Florida high school football reporter and 560 AM radio host Larry Blustein offered his assessment of Holliman’s verbal to FIU.

“Several college coaches who I spoke to were impressed at what he brings to any team,” said Blustein. “He was instrumental in the success of Norland’s playoff run this season and at 6-1, 180-pounds can become a force in the secondary.”

Jaheim Buchanon - Offensive Line (Lehigh Acres HS/Lehigh Acres, FL)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Buchanon: Buchanon was one of the earliest verbal commitments of the cycle for FIU, having given his verbal in August. The Southwest Florida native held offers from several FCS programs and Charlotte. At 6-2, 280-pounds, he brings a college-ready frame to the Panthers offensive line.

Toddrick Brewton - Defensive End (Miami Northwestern HS/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Brewton: A two-sport athlete at Miami Northwestern, Brewton committed to FIU in October over offers from Pitt, FAU and Akron. The 6-3, 230-pounder was sought after by several assistant coaches with South Florida ties including former FAU head coach Charlie Partridge and former FIU offensive line coach Joel Rodriguez.

Luby Maurice Jr. - Wide Receiver (Palm Beach Central HS/West Palm Beach, FL)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Maurice Jr.: Palm Beach Central product Luby Maurice Jr. was a highly-productive talent on a team that made a deep playoff run in 2022.

The 6-2, 180-pound wideout made several highlight reel grabs as a senior, totaling 34 receptions for 827 yards and 16 scores this season. He chose FIU over several offers including Maryland, Pitt, Illinois and Indiana.

Landon Hale - Defensive Back (Yulee HS/Yulee, FL)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Hale: Hailing from just shy of the Florida-Georgia state line, Yulee native Landon Hale held offers from several service academies and Ivy League programs but chose FIU in late July. He had a combined 140 tackles from his safety spot in his final two prep seasons and is another sizable defensive back at 6-1, 190 pounds.

Victor Evans - ATH (Monsignor Pace HS/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Evans: After starting his prep career playing for Luther Campbell and Miami Edison, three-star prospect Vic Evans played his senior season at Monsignor Pace. The 6-0, 160-pounder recorded 35 tackles and one interception in 2022.

Daniel Michel - Offensive Line (Dillard HS/Fort Lauderdale, FL)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Michel: Three-star offensive lineman Daniel Michel shut down his recruitment in July, giving his verbal to FIU over offers from Boston College and Bethune-Cookman. The 6-5, 270-pounder was a multi-year starter at Dillard High and gives the Panthers another body to develop on the offensive line.

Braiden Staten - Tight End (Green Hill HS/Mount Juliet, TN)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Staten: MacIntyre was able to tap into his Nashville recruiting ties to secure a commitment from Mount Juliet, Tennessee native Braiden Staten following his visit on the December 9 weekend. At 6-6, 220-pounds, Staten brings a sizable and athletic body to the Panthers tight end room. The rising prospect held offers from Kentucky and Ball State before choosing FIU.

Mykeal Rabess - ATH (Norland HS/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Rabess: The 6-6, 260-pound Rabess played on both sides of the ball for Norland. He was a two-year starter at tackle for the Vikings and had 44 tackles and 7.5 sacks on the defensive side of the ball.

AJ Cobb - Defensive Line (Frostproof HS/Frostproof, FL)

247 Grade: Not rated

About Cobb: Another two-sport athlete, defensive lineman A.J. Cobb’s 6-5, 255-pound frame could see him as an end of fill in and play inside at defensive tackle. Cobb had 23 tackles, three sacks and one interception this year.

Mister Clarke - DB (Carol City HS/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Three stars

About Clarke: Carol City defensive back Mister Clarke is another of the rising prospects that MacIntyre and his staff were able to secure during an early December recruiting weekend. Clarke held offers from Maryland and Marshall before choosing to give his verbal to FIU.

“He has an opportunity to make an impact sooner than later, which was appealing to many of the schools who watched him play,” said Blustein. “He’s a quality football player with the skill to play corner but has the size an instincts to play safety.”

Marquez Tatum - DL (Pearl River C.C./Pearl River, MS)

247 Grade: Not rated

About Tatum: After finishing high school at 260 pounds, JUCO defensive tackle Marquez Tatum is another defensive linemen whose body has been shaped after a few collegiate seasons. The 6-4, 295-pound Tatum racked up 45 tackles and two sacks for Pearl River C.C. this season.

Rowdy Beers - TE (Valor Christian High School/Littleton, CO)

247 Grade: Not rated

About Beers: The final tight end commitment of the early period, Colorado native Rowdy Beers’ verbal to FIU went viral on Monday night, due to his name. On the field, Beers fits the mold that MacIntyre and position coach Josh Eargle desire, coming in at 6-6 and 220 pounds. Beers played both sides of the ball as a senior, hauling in three touchdowns as a receiver and recording 5.5 sacks.

Kyle McNeal - ATH (Dwyer HS/Palm Beach Gardens, FL)

247 Grade: Not rated

About McNeal: A two-sport athlete out of Dwyer High in Palm Beach County, Kyle McNeal provides another taller target as a wideout with room for growth both physically and as a talent. The 6-2, 170-pound athlete hauled in 23 receptions for 369 yards on offense and added 33 tackles and three interceptions in the secondary on defense.

Keyone Jenkins - QB (Miami Central HS/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Jenkins: Formerly an Auburn commit, Jenkins set a state passing record for the state of Florida and won several state titles at Miami Central. The 6-0, 190-pound Jenkins gives FIU it’s highest-rated quarterback signee under MacIntyre and should allow the Panthers room to grow at the position.

Travis Burke - OL (Gardner-Webb)

247 Grade: Not rated

About Burke: At 6-9, Burke may be the tallest offensive line signee in the history of the FIU program. The South Florida native started at the FCS level at left tackle for Gardner-Webb and indicated a desire to get back to South Florida.

J.T. Anderson - Cornerback (Chamberlain HS/Tampa, FL — Bryant University)

247 Grade: Not rated

About Anderson: After redshirting as a true freshman in 2021, Florida native J.T. Anderson earned significant playing time this season in 2022. The 6-2, 190-pound Anderson had 17 tackles and two interceptions in the fall and should help fill the voids left at cornerback with the departures of Henry Gray and Andrew Volmar.

Jack Daly - Defensive Line (Choate Rosemary Hall/South Glastonbury, CT — Bryant University)

247 Grade: Not rated

About Daly: After arriving at Bryant as a 260-pounder, Jack Daly has morphed into a 6-5, 320-pound defensive tackle who is an ideal fit zero-technique in a 3-4 defense. He started 32 games over four seasons with the Bulldogs, totaling 104 tackles with 21.5 tackles for loss.

Christian Pedersen - Tight End (Junipero Serra HS/San Mateo, FL — University of Louisville)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Pedersen: The California native began his collegiate career at Louisville as a three-star recruit in the class of 2021, before entering the transfer portal in July of this year. The 6-5, 235-pounder should immediately help fill the void left behind by Rivaldo Fairweather’s departure and adds another sizable body alongside Josiah Miamen.

Preston Thompson — DB (Moore Haven HS/Moore Haven, FL)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Thompson: A former FAU commit, Thompson made the call to MacIntyre on Tuesday that he would sign with the Panthers. He should provide another body that can compete immediately in the secondary.