By Joel Delgado ’12 MS ’17
In college football, recruiting is a process. And FIU Head Coach Butch Davis is no stranger to that process.
But even the most seasoned coaches usually need at least a year to develop the types of relationships – with everyone from high school coaches and recruits to parents and guidance counselors – to effectively recruit.
Davis, who was hired in November, and his staff had just six weeks to zip across the state, building (and rebuilding) those relationships, working to fill the team’s immediate needs and lay down a foundation for the type of program Davis wants to establish.
On National Signing Day Feb. 1, Davis announced his first signing class at FIU Stadium, which includes 20 players covering virtually every position on the football field and a vast majority coming from South Florida.
The breakdown of the class includes three offensive linemen, four defensive linemen, two athletes, three defensive backs, two linebackers, two running backs, three wide receivers and a quarterback.
“I am very pleased with this class. I think it’s an outstanding class,” Davis said. “We got bigger and we got faster. We really needed to dramatically upgrade the speed and the size of the football team.”
Fifteen of the 20 student-athletes in the class are from Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties, signaling the program’s continued emphasis on recruiting in South Florida.
The Panthers landed four players from local powerhouse Booker T. Washington, including the brothers Richard and Rishard Dames, both defensive backs; offensive lineman Willa Pierre (a three-star recruit); and wide receiver DeAndre Williams.
In the final days of recruiting, FIU also picked up some late steals – most notably South Broward defensive back Dorian Hall and Miami Southridge offensive lineman Cody Bowes, both three-star recruits.
Hall – a 6-5, 190-pound safety who received interest from programs like Florida State, Alabama and Georgia – was a first-team All-County selection after recording 86 tackles and 15 sacks in his senior season.
Bowes, a former West Virginia commit, decided to join teammate and linebacker Brandon James at FIU after dwindling his choices down to the Panthers and Florida Atlantic.
“Almost every single year, [South Florida] will be a major emphasis as we go forward in recruiting,” Davis said.
Kaylan Wiggins, a dual-threat quarterback from Sanford Seminole (Sanford, FL) who had his scholarship pulled from Tulane, committed to FIU in December. He threw 22 touchdown passes and ran for seven more in his senior season, nearly leading his team to a state title.
The lone out-of-state recruit in the class was wide receiver Bryce Singleton (Hilton Head, S.C.), who scored 24 touchdowns (10 receiving, 11 rushing and three on special teams returns).
Spring practices will begin in early March with the annual Spring Game tentatively slated for Friday, April 7.
2017 FIU Signee Roster
Cody Bowes – Offensive Line
Romelo Brooks – Athlete
Rashad Colson – Defensive Line
Noah Curtis – Defensive Line
Richard Dames – Defensive Back
Rishard Dames – Defensive Back
Jamal Gates – Linebacker
Dorian Hall – Athlete
Brandon James – Linebacker
Tevin Jones – Defensive Line
Mershawn Miller – Offensive Line
Kevin Oliver – Defensive Line
Willa Pierre – Offensive Line
D’Vonte Price – Running Back
AJ Sattinger – Half-Back
Bryce Singleton – Wide Receiver
Shermar Thornton – Wide Receiver
Kaylan Wiggins – Quarterback
DeAndre Williams – Wide Receiver
Jacob White – Defensive Back