Iowa transfer Josiah Miamen living a vastly different reality at FIU

Daniel A. Varela/dvarela@miamiherald.com

Josiah Miamen knows about contrasts.

He spent his first two collegiate seasons at the University of Iowa, helping the Hawkeyes to a 16-6 record, one Big Ten West title and a pair of bowl games.

Miamen – a 6-4, 250-pound tight end – has since transferred to FIU, where the Panthers have lost 20 consecutive games against FBS opponents.

Last week, FIU (1-2) took the worst beating in program history, losing 73-0 at Western Kentucky. This Saturday, FIU will play its third straight road game, visiting New Mexico State (1-4).

The football fortunes of Iowa and FIU aren’t the only adjustment Miamen is making.

“When I moved here in January, it went from eight inches of snow to sunny and on the beach,” said Miamen, who hails from Peoria, Illinois.

“My biggest adjustment has been the fatigue that comes with the sun beating down on you. It’s 100-something degrees on the turf, and you are sweating through all your pads and gloves.”

So far, Miamen -- who is splitting time with starting tight end Rivaldo Fairweather – is adjusting well. Miamen is second on the team in catches (nine) and yards (92), trailing only wide receiver Tyrese Chambers. Fairweather, in contrast, has been held to just four catches for 43 yards.

Miamen said there’s at least one major advantage to living in Miami instead of Iowa City.

The food.

“I can wake up one day and be Cuban, and I can wake up the next day and be Venezuelan,” said Miamen, 21.

“The variety available is a definite upside. I like to branch out, try new stuff and eat authentic, home-cooked food instead of being stuck with Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s.”

A diverse food palate comes natural to Miamen. His father, Enoch Miamen, was born and raised in the West African nation of Liberia. Josiah describes the heritage of his mother, Melinda Doty, as “American white with a German background.”

Josiah Miamen said his father had to leave Liberia at age 18 for “safety” reasons.

Still, there’s something to be learned from his paternal roots.

“They may not have fancy cars or high-rise buildings, but they love their families and appreciate what they have,” Miamen said. “My dad said there’s a greater enjoyment of life in Liberia.”

Josiah Miamen is enjoying his life at FIU, where he is a Finance major.

On the field, Miamen had always wanted to be a wide receiver, and he convinced his coaches at Peoria’s Dunlap High to allow him to play his favorite position even though he had grown to 6-3 and 235 pounds by his senior year.

He led Dunlap to the state final as a junior, catching 22 passes for 634 yards, an impressive 28.8 average and 11 touchdowns.

As a senior, he caught 25 passes for 500 yards, a 20.0 average and six touchdowns.

Iowa offered him a scholarship, but he turned it down initially because the Hawkeyes wanted him as a defensive end. When Iowa offered again – this time as a tight end – Miamen accepted.

But after catching just one pass in two years at Iowa, Miamen headed south to FIU.

Miamen, who was one of three tight end recruits in Iowa’s Class of 2019, said he didn’t expect to be what he became, which was a bench-warmer.

He admits it was tough to handle mentally, but he also said the experience made him a better person.

“Not playing was better for me than if I had experienced immediate success,” Miamen said. “It was better for my character.”

Still, Miamen felt he had learned all he could from the Iowa coaches, and he didn’t “see the benefit” of staying a Hawkeye another year.

As for his re-recruitment, Miamen said he wasn’t planning on attending FIU until he met with Panthers offensive coordinator David Yost.

“What won me over was how much (Yost) had the tight end on the field, the success he had with his quarterbacks and his general knowledge of the game,” Miamen said.

Although Miamen prides himself as a pass-catcher, FIU tight ends coach Joshua Eargle said he sees his protégé as a complete tight end.

Eargle said Miamen has great hands and does a good job as a route runner. But Eargle said Miamen also does a great job in the running game.

“He has some catches, but he can also put his face and nose in there and be a road grader,” Eargle said. “By no means has he maxed out his potential. He’s an asset.”

Miamen, who had never played tight end until he got to college, seems to have made the adjustment rather easily, even when blocking against bigger players.

It’s all about leverage, pad level, hand placement and effort.

“I’m a hard-nosed guy,” he said. “It really doesn’t matter about your weight as much as where you are directing your force and if you explode through their body and deliver your blow at one specific point.

“But if you go up against a guy who weighs 275 pounds and is as good at fundamentals as you are, then you’re in for a fight.”

FIU searches for bright spots after 73-0 blowout loss to Western Kentucky