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FAU, FIU fill up on homegrown talent

Out of more than 50 signees for the schools, only two are from outside the state of Florida.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 8, 2001

Florida International and Florida Atlantic took one more step toward realizing their college football goals.

For FIU coach Don Strock, it was a chance to get his first glimpse of what a budding program looks like. For FAU's Howard Schnellenberger, it was an opportunity to fill out a roster before his team plays its first intercollegiate game in September.

Both relied heavily on Florida high school talent.

FIU signed 27 players Wednesday, all but one from schools in the state, most from the counties surrounding the tiny Miami campus. They'll have a season of nothing but practices and workouts until the Golden Panthers play their first game Sept. 14, 2002.

"It came out great," said Strock, the former Miami Dolphins quarterback. "I'm very excited. This is a great core to build around."

Strock said the main goal for this class was to concentrate in the offensive and defensive lines and linebacker. He said FIU did a good job.

Leading the way on the line was 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive lineman Victor Cernius from Tampa Catholic. He is joined by defensive counterpart Josh Alexander from St. Joseph's Academy in St. Augustine.

Alexander made 53 sacks the past three years and was named a USA Today Super 24 player.

Strock signed 10 players from Miami-Dade County, six from Broward and three from the Orlando area. The rest of the signings, with the exception of Dane Ireson from Pennsylvania, are spread out throughout the state.

Like Strock, Schnellenberger sold the stay-close-to-home theory to his recruits. All but of one of FAU's signees is from Florida.

"A lot of them wanted to stay close to home," Strock said. "They felt it was important for them to be near their families so they could come see them play. We still have recruiting to do."

Strock said FIU has to fill out its roster and will play six scrimmage games. The Golden Panthers have seven games set up for their first season, one in which they play a Division I-AA schedule.

The Owls play their first game Sept. 1 at home against Slippery Rock.

Schnellenberger used this year's signing period to add size, backing up players who have been working out at FAU for a year.

The FAU roster includes Javier Valdes, a center from Miami's Belen Jesuit Prep, and David Wright, an offensive lineman from DeLand. Each is 6 feet 5 and weighs more than 300 pounds.

Of the 77 players Florida Atlantic had on its roster before Wednesday, only one weighed more than 300 pounds.

Florida Atlantic signees

Jake Beckman, DE, 6-3, 220, Miami Palmetto; Sam Black, RB, 5-10, 195, Miami Senior; Sylvester Brinkley, LB, 6-3, 185, Stuart Martin County; x-Yulkeith Brown, DB, 5-8, 175, Miami Northwestern; Travis Dority, WR, 6-4, 185, Boca Raton; Dominic Fair, LB, 6-0, 225, Boynton Beach Spanish River; Yamon Figurs, WR, 5-11, 160, Fort Pierce Westwood; Kevin Fischer, OL, 6-3, 235, Boca Raton Pope John Paul II; William Gray, DL, 6-4, 210, Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson; Willie Hughley, CB, 5-10, 170, Haines City; x-Dimitri Jacques, LB, 6-3, 205, Miami Beach; Tremaine Johnson, DB, 5-11, 172, Boynton Beach Santaluces; Justin Markey, DB, 6-3, 225, Sarasota; Chris McKinley, SS, 6-1, 190, Rockledge; Chris Munoz, C, 6-2, 260, Miami Columbus; Kinyumba Mutakabbirr, LB, 6-2, 187, Lawrenceville (Ga.) Berkmar; Taurian Osborne, CB, 5-10, 175, Miami Jackson; Anthony Porter, RB, 5-10, 175, West Palm Beach Leonard; Darrion Porter, WR, 6-1, 170, Bradenton Manatee; Jason Pugh, DE, 6-2, 234, Atlantic Beach Fletcher; Jordan Roberts, DT, 6-2, 235, Alan Hancock College, Santa Maria, Calif; Cameron Rodgers, FS, 5-10, 174, Jefferson; Chris Shepard, C, 6-3, 288, Apopka; Justin Sobol, OT, 6-4, 266, Pompano Beach Ely; Teddy Strachan, DT, 6-2, 245, South Broward; Brittney Tellis, WR, 5-9, 170, Miami Northwestern; Javier Valdes, C, 6-5, 300, Miami Belen Jesuit; Scott Whitener, OT, 6-4, 270, Fort Meade; David Wright, OL, 6-5, 335, DeLand.

x-already attending Florida Atlantic

Florida International signees

Josh Alexander, DL, 6-2, 265, St. Augustine St. Joseph; Terrance Allen, DT, 6-4, 260, Merritt Island; Lamart Barrett, WR/QB, 6-3, 180, Miami Springs; Gerrod Bodie, SS, 5-11, 188, Miami Palmetto; Victor Cernius, OL/DL, 6-6, 295, Tampa Catholic; Ethan Cherasia, LB, 6-2, 215, Miami Springs; Shaun Dudney, LB, 6-1, 235, Miami Palmetto; Isaac Gamble, OL, 6-3, 285, Kissimmee Poinciana; Adam Gorman, FB, 6-2, 210, St. Petersburg Catholic; John Haritan, DB, 6-0, 180, Longwood Lyman; Christopher Horne, LB, 6-2, 190, Miami Carol City; Dane Ireson, LB, 6-3, 215, Owen J. Roberts, Pottstown, Pa; Larry Leon, OL, 6-4, 265, Miami Florida Christian; Joe LoCurto, DL, 6-4, 225, Fort Lauderdale Pinecrest; Talmadge Mathews, OL, 6-5, 265, Miami Palmetto; Kevin Maurice, FB, 5-10, 200, Miami Lakes; Edwin Pierre, TE/DE, 6-2, 225, North Miami; Lance Preston, LB, 6-1, 210, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna; Joel Renaud, OL, 6-7, 285, Oakland Park Northeast; Taurean Robinson, RB, 5-11, 205, Miami Southridge; Andre Rollins, WR, 6-3, 190, Miami Carol City; Kyle Salas, LB, 6-1, 210, Plantation; Ali Samara, OL/DL, 6-2, 255, Belle Glade Glades Central; David Tabor, QB, 6-1, 200, Kissimmee Poinciana; Kris Thomas, DB, 6-2, 180, Plantation American Heritage; Ed Wenger, OL, 6-1, 275, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas; Payton Williams, DL, 6-2, 240, Miami Northwestern.

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