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FIU Football: 2022 National Signing Day Recap

Mike MacIntyre’s first signing class at FIU sees the addition of 27 players.

Mike MacIntyre’s first recruiting class at FIU sees the addition of 27 players to a program that is in need of an infusion of players after the graduation and transfer of several players since the end of last season.

“We're excited about today and all that transpired, to put everything together that we have over the past six weeks has been incredible,” said MacIntyre. “The biggest challenge has been trying to effectively evaluate all of the players that we’ve received interest in because of the condensed timeline.”

Most notably, FIU added 14 transfer players over the signing period, players that MacIntyre expects to be able to come in and contribute immediately.

“It’s important to get experience and we signed those guys to be able to play pretty quick, it’s like NFL free agency in a sense, we had to fill some immediate holes so we can be competitive quickly,” said MacIntyre.

Duke quarterback Gunnar Holmberg leads the way among the transfers, having started the majority of last season at quarterback for the Blue Devils and will be immediately in a quarterback competition that features former three-star recruits Haden Carlson and Grayson James.

Offensive lineman Deyavie Hammond and linebacker Donovan Manuel are among the experienced transfers who will be called on immediately.

“(Manuel) is a big and sturdy linebacker who made a lot of plays at East Tennessee State and we’re looking forward to seeing him here,” said MacIntyre.

From the high school ranks, MacIntyre was able to several players from South Florida with Miami Palmetto wide receiver Mike Jackson leading the way as the highest-rated prep signee.

“I’m really excited about his explosiveness on the football field, we see guys like that at the next level making plays and if you can’t touch em, you can’t catch em, that’s my philosophy on guys like that,” said MacIntyre.

The Panthers recruiting class finishes ranked among the top-50 transfer classes in the nation and is second in Conference USA, according to 247 Sports transfer portal rankings.

Currently, FIU has 88 players including walk-on’s on the roster and MacIntyre notes that he would like to get as close as possible to the 85-man scholarship limit by adding an additional four scholarship players between now and August.

“We’re working on getting to 85, we have 88 players right now and I believe we’ll get to 83 scholarship players but there’s still a chance that we can get to 85,” said MacIntyre.

Here’s a look at the players added during Wednesday’s signing period.


Recruits

Deyavie Hammond – Offensive Line (Independence C.C./Independence, KS)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Hammond: The Lakeland native played at powerhouse high schools Lakeland High and IMG Academy before attending equally prolific Independence Community College, best known for appearing on Netflix’s “Last Chance U” series. A 6-3, 330-pound offensive lineman, Hammond was recruited by Florida as well.

Jordan Doelling – Punter (ProKick Australia/Australia)

247 Grade: Two Stars

About Doelling: As Aussie specialists are en vogue in college football, Doelling brings the prototypical size of a specialist produced down under at 6-4 and 230 pounds. He learned American football at Prokick Australia, a program that has developed and sent over 185 kickers and punters colleges in the United States.

Amari Jones — Quarterback (Bradford HD/Starke, FL)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Jones: Jones is a dual-threat quarterback who had interest from several Ivy League schools, but chose FIU.

Larry Preston -- Athlete (Wekiva HS/Orlando, FL)

247 Grade: Not Rated

About Preston: Preston spent the past two seasons playing JUCO, but was recruited by Coastal Carolina and Jacksonville State coming out of high school in 2020.

Jackson Lee -- Long Snapper (Gilbert HS/Gilbert, AZ)

247 Grade: Not Rated

About Lee: Lee was a need for FIU with the departure of specialist Tommy Zozus, who left for UConn. “We knew we were going to need a snapper after the former snapper who was here decided to leave in the offseason,” said MacIntyre.

Antonio Patterson – Running Back (Oakland HS/Murfreesboro, TN)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Patterson: Patterson was recruited and offered by multiple FCS programs before earning the offer from FIU in mid-December, shortly after the hiring of Mike MacIntyre. The three-star prospect is from suburban Nashville — MacIntyre’s hometown and played behind 2022 five-star prospect Jordan James.

John Bock – Offensive Lineman (Cardinal Gibbons HS/Fort Lauderdale, FL)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Bock: The son of former NFL offensive lineman John Bock, Bock II played at state power Cardinal Gibbons High, winning multiple state titles with the program.

Mike Jackson – Athlete (Miami Palmetto HS/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Jackson: The highest-rated local recruit in MacIntyre’s class, Jackson is a dynamic playmaker who can operate in space with the football.

Semaj Flagg – Defensive Back (Booker T. Washington HS/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Flagg: A three-star prospect who garnered interest from several Power Five programs and was hotly recruited by Appalachain State’s Frank Ponce, Flagg comes to FIU after his prep career at Monsignor Pace and Booker T. Washington High.

DJ Aiken – Defensive End (Bluffton HS/Bluffton, SC)

247 Grade: Three Stars

About Aiken: The South Carolina product also had interest from several Power Five programs before choosing FIU following the hiring of MacIntyre. At 6-3, 240-pounds, Aiken has a body that could be called upon to contribute immediately.

Hezekiah Masses – Defensive Back (Deerfield Beach HS/Deerfield Beach, FL)

247 Grade: Not Rated

About Masses: Masses was a key performer in the defensive backfield for Deerfield Beach High School starting during his senior campaign.

Naeer Jackson – Offensive Line (Miami Killian HS/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Two Stars

About Jackson: The Philadelphia native began his prep career at Simon Gratz High in Philly before transferring to Miami Killian and had interest from Syracuse, taking a visit with the Orange as recently as last week before choosing to remain with FIU.

Percy Courtney – Linebacker (Western HS/Fort Lauderdale, FL)

247 Grade: Not Rated

About Courtney: Courtney was a standout at Western High in Fort Lauderdale, racking over over 100 tackles and 10 sacks from his linebacker spot as a senior.

JD Lee — Offensive Line (Pearl Cohn HS/Nashville, TN)

247 Grade: Not Rated

About Lee: The 6-3, 275-pound Lee helped guide Pearl Cohn to an 11-2 record as a senior and a 4-1 in league play as a two-year starter.

Steven Shannon – Defensive Lineman (Miami Killian HS/Miami, FL)

247 Grade: Not Rated

About Shannon: Shannon put up solid numbers as a senior, recording over 60 tackles and 10 sacks for Miami Killian as a senior. The 6-3, 235-pounder will also be expected to come in and be a factor on the defensive line.


Transfers

Gunnar Holmberg — Quarterback (Duke)

The former Duke quarterback was the primary starter for the Blue Devils last year, throwing for 2,358 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season. A three-star recruit out of high school, Holmberg battled injuries early in his career before seeing action in 18 games.

Adrian Cole — Defensive Back (Syracuse)

Cole played two seasons at Syracuse appearing in nine games with two starts at corner while compiling 17 tackles and three pass breakups. During the 2020 campaign, he saw action in five games as a reserve defensive back and tabbed 10 tackles.

Willie Reid — Safety (Central Michigan)

Reid was a standout safety at Central Michigan in 2019 and 2020, earing all-MAC first-team honors in ‘20 after a 34-tackle, three-interception season that saw the 6-1, 210-pound safety become one of the top coverage safeties in the league. He missed all of 2021 with an undisclosed off-the-field issue. Reid’s status for ‘22 is currently unknown at the moment, but would provide an instant presence in the secondary.

Sharod Johnson — Wide Receiver (Syracuse)

South Florida product Sharod Johnson was a three-star recruit coming out of Booker T. Washington HS before landing at Syracuse. He appeared in 32 games with nine starts last season and recorded 25 catches for 305 yards in four seasons with the Orange.

Jacolby Hewitt — Wide Receiver (Indiana)

MacIntyre earned a commitment from former Indiana wideout Jacolby Hewitt, giving the Panthers a much-needed addition in a receiving room that loses several players. A former three-star recruit from suburban Memphis, Hewitt appeared in 18 games over the past two season in Bloomington, catching 13 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown.

Latarie Kinsler — Defensive End (Syracuse)

Kinsler was offered by FIU coming out of Pahokee High in the 2020 cycle, but chose to head north and join Syracuse over offers from the Panthers along with Nebraska and Louisville. A three-star recruit, Kinsley did not see action in a game for the Orange. However, he should be in the mix to contribute immediately with the losses on the defensive line from last year.

Josiah Miamen — Tight End (Iowa)

The former Iowa Hawkeye was a highly-regarded tight end prospect coming out of Peoria, Illinois in 2019. The 6-5, 245-pounder had offers from Michigan and Illinois before choosing Iowa. He appeared in three contests last season, catching one pass for 22 yards. Miamen will provide depth in a talented tight end room that features Rivaldo Fairweather.

Donovan Manuel — Linebacker (Eastern Tennessee State)

Manuel played his first two seasons at East Tennessee State where he tabbed 124 tackles, including 67 solo stops and 9.5 tackles for loss (three sacks) en route to earning a spot on the All-SoCon First Team squad as named to the Phil Steele Fourth Team All-American Freshman squad.

Jalen Bracey -- (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC)

Bracey joins FIU with two seasons of eligibility remaining after being a three-year starter for Mississippi Gulf Coast College where he amassed 1,678 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns for the Bulldogs.

Will Prendergast -- (Blinn College)

Prendergast arrives at FIU as a sophomore after playing one season at Blinn College. He notched 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks over eight games in 2021.

Samuel Hill — Offensive Line (Reinhardt University)

Hill began his collegiate career at NAIA Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, where he saw action in six games in 2021. Hill will compete at either guard or tackle spot on the offensive line for the Panthers.

Jacob Peace — Offensive Line (VMI)

Peace played his first two collegiate seasons at Virginia Military Institute and was named the most improved player for the Keydets during 2019 spring drills.