As the historic 20th season of FIU football approaches this September, optimism was in the air at the team’s media day.
Training camp is underway, and a full slate of games is around the corner. On Tuesday, senior student-athletes shared their thoughts on what they think is possible for the Panthers in 2021.
“I feel like this year, I’m looking forward to our team clicking as one. All out balling,” said D’Vonte Price, senior running back.
FIU is approaching 2021 with a winning attitude. Last year, the Panthers had seven of 12 games cancelled for COVID-related reasons. This year, they are fired up and ready to show everything they have.
“All the guys who are coming back this year, we have a point to prove,” said Richard Dames, one of the seniors who was invited to return to FIU for one more season due to the incomplete nature of 2020. “We all wanted to come back and end [our FIU careers] on a good note.”
Head coach Butch Davis was not in attendance at the media conference due to an illness, but his assistant coaches were there to highlight how players are developing at key positions. Offensive coordinator Andrew Breiner talked up the depth at the running back position. Defensive coordinator Everett Withers added that he feels FIU’s linebackers have a wealth of experience that will pay off in stopping the run.
FIU also has individual talents that are poised to catch the eyes of NFL scouts. One in particular is Price, who has been named to the watch list for the 2021 Doak Walker Award, an honor that goes to the nation’s top back at the end of the season.
The Punta Gorda, Florida, native has made leadership a top priority.
“My goal is to just keep growing as a leader, because when I first got here, I didn't have to be that vocal leader. I had to step outside of my comfort zone and do things that were uncomfortable for me,” Price said. “One of my sayings is, ‘Be comfortable being uncomfortable.’ Just keep doing uncomfortable things and eventually it will become comfortable for me, and I’ll be a better leader for everyone on the team, a better person, a better man.”
The seniors on the team noted that they have some games they are looking forward to, including the Shula Bowl at FAU in Boca Raton and a trip out west to play Texas Tech. However, they all emphasized that they look forward to attacking each game one at a time.
“I’m expecting us to win, just in general,” said senior defensive lineman Kevin Oliver. “All of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. I don’t expect anything less.”
The football season kicks off at 7 p.m. on September 7 at FIU Stadium when the Panthers host Long Island University. To be there for the live action, check out fiutickets.com.