2012 OUTLOOK: A third consecutive bowl appearance for FIU is a very realistic opportunity. Though explosive receiver T.Y. Hilton and QB Wes Carroll are gone, the Panthers are still have plenty of weapons on offense, and the defense should take another step up after making a big improvement in 2011 over the numbers for the 2010 season.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
Sophomore QB Jake Medlock will step in for Carroll. Medlock had two starts late in 2011 before going out with a shoulder injury. Senior Wayne Times offers many of the same possibilities as Hilton did when it comes to big plays. TB Kedrick Rhodes rushed for 1,149 as a sophomore and has become stronger through the offseason program. Four starters return up front.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
This unit returns all 11 from those who started in the bowl game against Marshall and held opponents to just 19.5 points a game, best in the Sun Belt Conference. In fact, with the potential return of S Chuck Grace, only two players are gone from the 2011 two-deep. Among all-conference candidates include DE Tourek Williams, DT Isame Faciane, LB Winston Frazier, L Jordan Hunt, SS Jonathan Cprien and CB Sam Miller.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS
PK Jack Griffin, who kicked the deciding field goal in the 2010 bowl win over Toledo, is an accurate kicker with a strong leg. He was 22-of-26 on field goals last year, including 6-of-7 from 40-49 yards. P Josh Brisk averaged 42.3 with 16 of his 61 attempts downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line against nine touchbacks. Hilton, obviously, will be missed in the return game, but WR Wayne Times has the speed to break long kickoff returns. Sam Miller and Richard Leonard will handle punt returns.
QB E.J. Hilliard -- A February signee who enrolled early to take part in spring drills, Hilliard is competing for the backup spot behind starter Jake Medlock and looks even with redshirt freshman Lorenzo Hammonds, who showed off his running skills in the spring game.
LB Patrick Jean -- Earning three stars from both Scout.com and Rivals.com, Jean was the highest rated among the six linebackers FIU signed. He had looked to be headed for Louisville at one time.
WR De'Andre Jasper -- At 5-9, 180, Jasper is about the same size as T.Y. Hilton, FIU's all-time leading receiver. He comes out of Miami's Jackson High.
--LG Giancarlo Revilla has moved over a step in the offensive line after starting at center in 2011.
--RT Aaron Nielsen moved from defense and was running second team at the end of spring drills.
--LT Caylin Hauptman, a starter the last two years, sat out the spring recovering from a shoulder injury.
-- S Chuck Grace took part in spring drills but had not yet been approved by the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility. He missed all but three games because of a knee injury.
-- TB Kedrick Rhodes bruised his tailbone two days earlier and did not take part in the spring game.
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