After losing key recruit, FIU’s quarterback roster for 2023 still taking shape

FIU’s football team went 0-4 in November – and that was just on the field.

November wasn’t so great for FIU off the field, either.

That’s because three-star Miami Central quarterback Keyone Jenkins – who had been committed to FIU since July 30 – took a visit to Auburn on Nov. 12. One week later, he ditched FIU and committed to Auburn.

“Keyone is a natural winner,” Central coach Jube Joseph told The Herald this week. “He wants to test himself against the best collegiate talent possible, and that’s the SEC.

“South Florida is basically the SEC for high schools. Keyone is used to going up against the best in practice and in games.”

Indeed, Jenkins has led Central to a 12-0 record and a berth in the 2M state semifinals on Friday against St. Petersburg Lakewood.

Entering Friday, Jenkins has completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 1,758 yards, 22 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He has also run for 178 yards, four touchdowns and a 16.2 average.

“He can sit in the pocket and slice and dice you,” Joseph said of Jenkins. “He can also pull the ball and run in a zone read.”

Senior football recruits who wish to sign early can do so from Dec. 21 to Dec. 23, and with Jenkins apparently off FIU’s board, the Panthers do not yet have a quarterback in their Class of 2023.

The Panthers, who finished their first season under coach Mike MacIntyre at 4-8 – a three-win improvement over the previous year – still have young quarterbacks Grayson James and Haden Carlson on their roster.

FIU quarterback Grayson James (3) runs on a keeper to score a touchdown during the first half of the Shula Bowl gainst FAU at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, Florida, on Saturday, November 12, 2022.
FIU quarterback Grayson James (3) runs on a keeper to score a touchdown during the first half of the Shula Bowl gainst FAU at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, Florida, on Saturday, November 12, 2022.

Graduate transfer Gunnar Holmberg, who opened the year as FIU’s starter, got hurt in the opener and never played again. He seems unlikely to return to FIU, although there has been no official announcement.

James has played in 17 collegiate games, including 10 starts. He went 3-7 in his starts, and, essentially won the Bryant game, coming in off the bench to fire four TD passes for a 38-37 overtime victory.

Carlson has played eight career games, and he was impressive in his one start, a 33-28 loss to Middle Tennessee State this past Saturday in FIU’s season finale.

James missed the Middle Tennessee game due to a thigh bruise, and it was the first time he was unavailable all season.

For the year, James completed 58.7 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He averaged 5.5 yards per attempt, but he likely will not go into 2023 assured of a starting job.

Carlson, meanwhile, represents an interesting option to James, who seems more willing to take the short completion.

“I like to push the ball downfield,” Carlson said. “Sometimes it’s to my detriment.

“But I believe my best is yet to come.”

THIS AND THAT

It’s clear FIU is building its defense around linebacker Gaethan Bernadel and safety Demetrius Hill, both of whom were first-year starters in just their second season on a college campus.

Bernadel led FIU with 103 tackles, including eight for losses.

Hill, who ranked third with 95 tackles, also added three forced fumbles, two passes defensed and one interception.