What you need to know ...
There are a lot of ifs all over the place hoping for several
promising young prospects to become major factors all over the
place. One area that's not a problem is quarterback where Josh
Padrick is primed for an All-Sun Belt season while backups
Tavares Kendrick and Jamie Burke could be the best reserves in
the league. There are several good, speedy backs to count on
behind a huge offensive line that should be fine by midseason.
The receiving corps needs a second wide receiver to emerge to
help out Chandler Williams and tight end Samuel Smith.
Passing: Josh Padrick
22-1-366, 2,461 yds, 13 TD
Rushing: A'mod Ned
88 carries, 379 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Chandler Williams
61 catches, 870 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Senior QB Josh Padrick
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
OT Dustin Gibson and senior OT David Bailey
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Julian Reams
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Samuel Smith
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Padrick, 2) Smith, 3)
WR Chandler Williams
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, tight end
Weakness of the offense:
Experienced depth, number two wide receiver
It's a great situation for head coach Don Strock to work
with. Josh Padrick is a strong starter and great leader who
knows the offense back and forth. It'll be a total shock if he
doesn't lead the Sun Belt in passing. Tavares Kendrick is the
future of the program and needs more reps this year to get ready
for next season, but he'll be pushed hard by former FIU star
The key to the unit: Josh Padrick has to cut down on
his interceptions and Tavares Kendrick needs more meaningful
Quarterback Rating: 6
- Josh Padrick, Sr. - 221-366, 60%, 2,461 yds, 13 TD, 11
INT, 39 carries, 12 yds, 4 TD
Padrick is a three-yard starter who should be one of the Sun
Belt's best quarterbacks after earning second-team All-Sun Belt
honors. He's a polished passer and a great leader. He's 6-3 and
207 pounds with a live arm and good mobility. He could grow into
the type of player good enough to carry the team a long way.
- Tavares Kendrick, Soph. - 11-18, 61%, 134 yds, 1
TD, 1 INT, 3 carries, 3 yds
The 6-4, 222-pound junior saw a little bit of action early on
last season and will be groomed for the 2007 starting job. He's
a great athlete with a big arm and enough speed to be a
dangerous second option behind Josh Padrick.
- Jamie Burke, Sr.
The former starter retired from football after having problems
returning from a torn ACL, but he returned last year to lead the
scout team. He's a good passer who earned D-IAA All-America
honors in 2002 and will now push Tavares Kendrick for the number
Ben West got back on the team after off-the-field issues
and turned into a good back. His departure doesn't hurt too much
with the return of several very good young prospects led by the
flashy A'mod Ned and the speedy Julian Reams. True freshmen
Devon Freeman and Chance Attaway
were Florida state high school stars
who'll see several carries in the rotation.
The key to the unit: Getting more big runs and get
over five yards per carry out of the number one tailback.
Running Back Rating: 4.5
- A'mod Ned, Soph. - 88 carries, 375 yds, 4.3 ypc, 3 TD,
13 catches, 81 yds, 6.2 ypc
The small, shifty sophomore got in the mix over the second half
of the season and turned into the workhorse. He's only 5-9 and
174 pounds, but he has good breakaway speed and great hands as a
receiver. While he won't be a 1,000-yard rusher, he needs to
average around five yards per carry.
- Fullback John Ellis, RFr.
The 215-pound redshirt freshman is a physical back with good
hands and a little bit of power. He can be used as a featured
back if needed and will be a dangerous receiver when he isn't
blocking for the speed backs.
- Julian Reams, Soph. - 87 carries, 322 yds, 3.7 ypc, 1
catch, 2 yds
The high school track star has the speed to become a top star in
a 208-pound frame. He has as much talent as anyone on the roster
and showed good potential as the featured back over the first
three games. He got dinged up and wasn't quite right the rest of
- Devon Freeman, Fr.
The 200-pound freshman helped Niceville win the Florida state
high school championships and will get every shot to see playing
time right away. He's not as quick as A'mod Ned or as fast as
Julian Reams, but he can move.
- Fullback Chance Attaway, Fr.
More of a tailback than a fullback, the 198-pound true freshman
will get every shot at the starting fullback job and will be
used as a between-the-tackles tailback.
Even with the loss of top touchdown man Cory McKinney the
receiving corps should be strong thanks to the return of
Chandler Williams and tight end Samuel Smith. Several young
receivers have to contribute right away with Reggie Thompson and
Sanchez Anderson needing to grow into reliable deep threats.
True freshmen John Houston Whiddon and Elliott Dix will be
counted on to provide the depth. Moses Hinton will combine with
Smith to form the Sun Belt's best tight end tandems.
The key to the unit: A second wide receiver has to
emerge to take the pressure off Chandler Williams and the true
freshman have to be better than expected with several passes to
be spread around in the FIU attack.
Receiver Rating: 4.5
- Chandler Williams, Sr. - 61 catches, 870 yds, 14.3 ypc,
Williams has been a steady receiver over the last three years
and turned into the team's go-to target last year. He wasn't
flashy and only caught two touchdown passes, but he was
consistent setting the school-record with a 61-catch season.
He's not going to beat the better defensive backs deep, so he'll
have to make big plays underneath and do more after the catch.
- Reggie Thompson, Soph. - 2 catches, 25 yds, 12.5 ypc
Thompson will get plenty of work as the starter in the slot.
He's a good-sized receiver with just enough speed to open things
up for the rest of the receivers. He'll have to fill the role
left by top touchdown maker Cory McKinney.
- Tight end Samuel Smith, Sr. - 35 catches, 3.2 yds, 8.6
ypc, 1 TD
Smith earned second-team All-Sun Belt honors as one of the
league's best blocking tight ends with great hands. He finished
third on the team in receiving despite missing the final three
games with a knee injury. He had an eight-catch, 98-yard day
against North Texas and should be an even better go-to target as
one of the key veterans in the attack.
- John Houston Whiddon, Fr.
One of the stars of the Florida state champion Niceville team
catching 49 passes for 827 yards and 11 touchdowns. He'll be a
fast option on the outside playing behind Chandler Williams.
- Sanchez Anderson, Soph. - 3 carries, 41 yds, 13.7 ypc
Anderson has the speed to be a top kick returner and should make
several big plays at flanker. He'll be used in three receiver
sets as a deep threat.
- Elliott Dix, Fr.
The cousin of Bo Jackson, Dix is one of the team's fastest
players and should quickly find his way in the rotation behind
Reggie Thompson and John Houston Whiddon.
- Tight end Moses Hinton, Soph. - 15 catches, 188 yds.
12.5 ypc, 1 TD
Hinton poses several matchup problems with his 6-5,
264-pound size and good speed. He's a bull with the ball in his
hands with too much power for one tackler to bring down. He came
through big over the final three games of the season catching 12
passes in the three-game winning streak.
The line was one of the best in the Sun Belt last season
allowing a mere 16 sacks. While there are some major personnel changes
needed, it's a big group with the potential to be even better in the
running game coached by former Miami Hurricane Leon Searcy. Mike Alvarez
needs to get healthy at left guard after suffering a shoulder injury,
while Ronny Silva is back at the other guard spot after breaking his
leg. The big spotlight will be at tackle where Dustin Gibson and David
Bailey will have some major problems early on.
The key to the unit: The tackles needs to play as
well as last year's starters and the four new starters have to form as
good a pass blocking unit as last year's front five.
Offensive Line Rating: 4
- OT Dustin Gibson, Soph.
A scout teamer over the last two seasons, the 6-6, 263-pound sophomore
will get the first look at left tackle and could be used at center if
needed. He'll be pushed hard by Danny Muy and will need to be part of a
- OG Mike Alvarez, Jr.
A shoulder injury is all that's keeping the 300-pound junior down. He
has a little bit of starting experience growing into one of the team's
best run blockers at left guard. He also saw starting time at center.
- C Xavier Shannon, Soph.
A spot starter and a good reserve, the 312-pound sophomore is a huge
first option at center and could move to guard. He's the son of Miami
Hurricane defensive coordinator Randy Shannon.
- OG Ronny Silva, Sr.
Silva is back after missing most of last season with a broken leg. At
6-2 and 346 pounds, he's by far the team's biggest lineman getting the
starting job again on the right side.
- OT David Bailey, Sr.
The former walk-on became a decent reserve after suffering a broken
foot. He's a huge 6-6 and 324 pounds and should be great for the ground
game at right tackle.
- T Danny Muy, RFr.
The 295-pound redshirt freshman is a much bigger possibility at left
tackle than 263-pound Dustin Gibson. Muy can play anywhere on the line
and should quickly find a starting spot somewhere.
- T Anthony Russo, RFr.
One of the team's top scout teamers, the 296-pound Russo
is a great athlete on the right side behind David Bailey.