With three key returners — cornerback Rishard Dames and safeties Richard Dames and Dorian Hall — the secondary figures to be the best part of the FIU Panthers’ 2020 defense.
The Dames twins, who are seniors this year, have nine combined career interceptions.
Rishard led FIU last year with four picks, including a one-hander against Western Kentucky that he returned 80 yards for a touchdown. He also had a career-high 10 tackles against Florida Atlantic.
Meanwhile, Richard Dames had a career-high 11 tackles against Louisiana Tech, including 10 solo stops.
Hall, a redshirt junior, has intriguing size at 6-4 and 195 pounds. He has played all 26 of FIU’s games the past two years, grabbing three interceptions.
Josh Turner, who had previously played at Iowa and spent 2019 on FIU’s scout team, could win the cornerback job vacated by Stantley Thomas-Oliver, who was drafted in the seventh round this year by the Carolina Panthers.
Redshirt sophomore Jamal Anderson, who played locally at South Dade High, could emerge as a slot corner.
Then there’s ex-Miami Central state champ Henry Gray, a former four-star recruit and the guy with perhaps the most potential of all of FIU defensive backs. If he is eligible this year — he left Nebraska and transferred to play college football closer to home — he could get immediate playing time.
Other defensive backs who could make an impact include redshirt sophomore Marquel Dillard and freshmen Jamal Potts, Joe Perkins and Andrew Volmar.
Some bad luck for former catcher
Chalk this up as bad timing for former FIU catcher Aramis Garcia.
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, a six-time All-Star and a three-time World Series champ, announced Friday that he is opting out of the 2020 major-league season because of family reasons. (Posey, 33, and his wife just adopted twins.)
Garcia, drafted by the Giants in the second round in 2014, made his major-league debut in 2018. He is the only other catcher on San Francisco’s 40-man roster and would have been the favorite to start the season behind the plate for the Giants had it not been for hip surgery in February.
He is likely out until late August or early September.
The Giants might turn to Joey Bart, a 2018 first-round pick who got a $7 million signing bonus and has great power. But Bart, 23, has yet to play above Double A.
San Francisco also has Patrick Bailey, 21, who was the 13th overall selection this year but is likely a couple of seasons away from the majors.
FIU football honored
FIU had nine athletes named to Phil Steele’s Preseason Conference USA All-Conference Team. The Panthers were led by First Team selection D’Antne Demery.
Demery, a 6-5, 320-pound senior offensive lineman from Brunswick, Georgia, played in all 13 games last season while starting 12 times at left tackle. Demery earned All-Conference USA Honorable Mention. Demery was named to Athlon’s Preseason All-Conference First Team last month.
Sterling Palmer, Jamal Gates and Tommy Heatherly comprised the second team, while JJ Holloman (Third Team), Shane McGough (Third Team), Chris Whittaker (Fourth Team), Dorian Hall (Fourth Team) and Richard Dames (Fourth Team) rounded out the third- and fourth-team selections, respectively.