FIU football’s 27 new signees profiled (includes video story)

Wednesday was National Signing Day when high school football stars from across the country commit to attending certain universities. Mike MacIntyre, Florida International University’s new head coach, held a press conference to discuss — among other things — the school’s 27 new signees.

The 2022 signing class is from both far and near — including Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Mississippi, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan. Fourteen of the new players are on the offensive side of the ball, and 11 play defense. There are also two special teams players: a punter and a long snapper. 

The new players are listed below with descriptions from the media office:

Jordan Doelling (P) – Melbourne, Australia/Monash University

Doelling (6-4, 230) was a member of the elite ProKick Australia which was developed in 2007 to train, guide and transition Australian athletes to perform at the collegiate and NFL levels. Doelling was one of nearly 200 ProKick Australia athletes awarded a college football scholarship in the United States. He has a powerful leg to match his significant frame and should be an immediate asset for the Panthers on special teams.

 DJ Aiken (DL) – Bluffton, S.C./Bluffton HS

Aiken (6-3, 245) is a top 30 recruit in the state of South Carolina and an accomplished pass rusher. Possesses a large wingspan that has proven effective in getting separation from blockers. Very athletic and long defensive lineman who is expected to see time as a true freshman.

 Hezekiah Masses (DB) – Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach HS

Masses (6-0, 160) was a key performer in the defensive backfield for Deerfield Beach High School, which posted a 9-3 record and a perfect 5-0 district mark during his senior campaign.

Steven Shannon (DE) – Miami, Fla./Miami Killian HS

Shannon (6-3, 250) is an aggressive defensive end who is stout against both the run and pass. He recorded 66 tackles and 10.5 sacks during his senior season while helping lead Miami Killian to a 12-2 record and a berth in the 5A Regional Championship Game. He finished with 99 tackles and 16.5 sacks over his final two prep seasons.

Percy Courtney Jr. (LB) – Miami, Fla./Western HS

During his senior year at Davie’s Western High School, Courtney (5-10, 190) enjoyed a breakthrough season with 111 total tackles, including 22.0 tackles for loss. He also recovered a pair of fumbles in 2021 and returned both for touchdowns. He helped guide the Wildcats to one of the best seasons in school history with a 9-3 record and a berth in the 8A Regional Semifinals.

Larry Preston (DB) – Apopka, Fla./McDougle Technical Institute/Wekiva HS

Preston (6-0, 175) competed last season at McDougal Technical Institute in Pompano Beach, Fla., following a successful prep career at Apopka’s Wekiva High School, where he played defensive back and quarterback for the Mustangs. Preston threw for over 1,600 yards over his final two prep campaigns and tossed 19 touchdown passes. He also averaged 21.0 yards a rush over 22 high school games and scored 11 touchdowns. Preston made 25 tackles his senior season, including 22 solo stops. He intercepted a pass and had seven pass deflections in his final season at Wekiva.

Jacob Peace (OL) – Berryville, Va./Virginia Military Institute (VMI)/Clarke County HS

Peace (6-5, 304) played his first two collegiate seasons at Virginia Military Institute and was named the most improved player for the Keydets during 2019 spring drills and prepped at Clarke County High School, where he was recognized with 2017 first-team all-conference and second team all-region honors. Peace played both offensive and defensive tackle for Clarke County and was a three-year letterman. He graduated holding several school weight room records and also lettered in wrestling.

Mike Jackson (WR) – Miami, Fla./Miami Palmetto HS

Jackson (5-8, 160) enjoyed a solid career at Miami’s Palmetto High School, which saw him honored by the Miami Herald as the 2021 Miami-Dade 8A-6A Defensive Player of the Year after nabbing 10 interceptions during his senior season. Jackson, who was also elite as a high school receiver, played on both sides of the ball while aiding Miami Palmetto to a District 16-8A title and a pair of postseason wins as a senior. He was recognized by the Miami Herald with 8A-6A All-Dade second-team selection as a wide receiver following a junior season that saw him tally nearly 300 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

Jackson Lee (LS) – Gilbert, Ariz./Perry HS

As a long snapper and tight end, Lee (6-2, 197) was a two-year letter winner at Perry High School in Gilbert, Ariz. He tallied 26 catches for 292 receiving yards while averaging 11.2 yards per reception as a senior. He also snagged three touchdown grabs. He enjoyed a career-best 145-yard receiving performance against Casteel High School as a senior.

 Naeer Jackson (OL) – Miami, Fla./Miami Killian HS

Jackson (6-6, 320) is an athletic, nimble and bruising offensive lineman who helped lead Miami Killian to a 12-2 record and a berth in the 5A Regional Championship Game. Saw time at both tackle positions on the offensive line during prep career. Should provide immediate depth to the Panthers’ offensive line.

 Semaj Flagg (LB) – Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington HS

Flagg (6-2, 180) is an athletic linebacker that prepped at Miami’s Booker T. Washington High School. Flagg was a key contributor on the defensive side of the ball for the Tornadoes, who posted a perfect record in district play and advanced to the Florida 4A Regional Playoffs.

 JD Lee (OL) – Nashville, Tenn./Pearl Cohn HS

Lee (6-3, 275) dominated the offensive line at Pearl Cohn High School at the tackle position. He helped guide Pearl Cohn to an 11-2 record as a senior and a 4-1 in league play. 

 Amari Jones (QB) – Starke, Fla./Bradford HS

Jones (6-2, 220) joins the FIU program after passing for 3,140 yards and 22 TDs during his career at Bradford High School. He enjoyed a breakout senior campaign that saw him toss for 2,287 yards and 19 touchdowns while averaging 190.6 yards per game. He had a QB rating of 100.2 and also rushed for 371 yards and seven TDs as a senior.

 2022 FIU EARLY SIGNING PERIOD

John Bock II (OL) – Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons HS

Bock (6-3, 305) is a tough and physical interior offensive lineman that has helped lead Cardinal Gibbons High School to a 10-2 record a berth in the Florida 4A State Championship Game on Thursday vs. Cocoa.

Bock is a proven mauler in the run game that has shown the ability to consistently finish off defenders at both the first and second levels. He was physically dominant as a pass protector during his prep career.

He played at both guard and center with Cardinal Gibbons and is still developing having grown over four inches in the last two years.

Bock was considered by many to be one of the top overall offensive linemen in the South Florida region in 2021. As a junior, he was also a key contributor on Cardinal Gibbons’ state championship-winning squad.

Antonio Patterson (RB) – Murfreesboro, Tenn./Oakland HS

Patterson (6-0, 195) posted 1,387 all-purpose yards and scored 19 touchdowns in leading Oakland High School to a perfect 15-0 record and a state championship in 2021.

He ripped off 1,440 all-purpose yards as a junior, including 1,242 on the ground and 18 touchdowns. The Patriots also finished with an unblemished 15-0 mark in 2020 and captured the first of back-to-back Tennessee 6A state championships.

Patterson runs with a high motor and consistently has shown the ability to beat defenders on the edge. He is both strong and possesses a burst, which helped him earn the region’s running back of the year award and all-region status.

An all-around athlete, Patterson also played free safety for the Patriots and forced three turnovers in 2021.

Jalen Bracey (WR) – Jackson, Miss./Mississippi Gulf Coast/Murrah HS

Bracey (5-10, 185) joins FIU with two seasons of eligibility remaining after being a three-year starter for Mississippi Gulf Coast College, where he amassed 1,678 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns for the Bulldogs.

A quick and agile receiver, Bracey finished the 2021 campaign ranked third in the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference with 42 receptions and second in touchdown catches with eight. He was a two-time All-South First Team honoree.

Bracey also excelled in the classroom as he earned mention to the MACJC All-Academic Team and was an NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Award recipient.

During his prep career at Murrah High School in Jackson, Miss., Bracey averaged 16.9 yards per catch over his final two seasons and recorded 34 catches for a total of 555 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 294 rushing yards on 40 carries – for an average of 7.4 yards per attempt.

Will Prendergast (DL) – Prosper, Texas/Blinn College/Prosper HS

Prendergast (6-2, 280) arrives at FIU as a sophomore after playing one season at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, where he was a menace for opposing offenses with 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks over eight games in 2021.

A tough and physical interior defensive lineman with a high motor and nose for football, Prendergast earned first-team all-district honors and all-state honors during his prep career at Prosper High School in Texas. He was also an academic all-district choice during his prep career.

Adrian Cole (DB) – Plantation, Fla./Syracuse/Plantation HS

Cole (5-11, 185) played the first two seasons of his collegiate career at Syracuse where he was a three-time Syracuse University Athletic Director’s Honor Roll selection. Cole appeared in nine games with two starts at corner while compiling 17 tackles and three pass breakups. During the 2020 campaign, he saw action in five games as a reserve defensive back and tabbed 10 tackles.

Was ranked No. 149 by ESPN and No. 197 in the 247Sports.com composite index among class of 2019 cornerbacks and the No. 34 player in Broward County by the Sun Sentinel. Cole was a 2018 Broward 8A-6A All-County First Team selection and a PrepStar All-Southeast honoree.

During senior prep season, he recorded 35 tackles, 10 pass breakups, six interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and a touchdown to lead Plantation to a 10-2 record and an appearance in the FHSAA 8A state playoffs. Totaled 50 tackles, 24 pass breakups and 11 interceptions in his prep career.

Josiah Miamen (TE) – Peoria, Ill./Iowa/Dunlap HS

Miamen (6-4, 245) began his collegiate career at the University of Iowa following a prep career at Peoria’s Dunlap High School. He earned first-team all-conference and all-area honors both a junior and senior. Was a three-year football letterman as tight end, wide receiver and defensive end. Helped Dunlap HS post a 20-4 record as a junior and senior, reaching state title game as a junior. Finished with 25 receptions for 500 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. Tabbed 22 receptions for 634 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior.

Donovan Manuel (LB) – Ellenwood, Ga./East Tennessee State/Stockbridge HS

Manuel (6-1, 200) played his first two collegiate seasons at East Tennessee State where he tabbed 124 tackles, including 67 solo stops and 9.5 tackles for loss (three sacks) en route to earning HERO Sports All-American Sophomore Team mention and a spot on the All-SoCon First Team squad as selected by the league’s coaches. Manuel was named to the Phil Steele Fourth Team All-American Freshman squad. He appeared and started in all 12 games for ETSU as a redshirt-freshman and was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team. Manuel posted 64 tackles along with 5.5 TFLs and a sack during his redshirt freshman season in 2019.

During his prep career at Georgia’s Stockbridge High School, Manuel was named Region 4-AAAAA Defensive Player of the Year and earned first-team all-state by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and by Recruit Georgia. He amassed 88 tackles, six tackles for loss, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 2017.

Sharod Johnson (WR) – Miami, Fla./Syracuse/Booker T. Washington

Johnson (5-11, 185) played three seasons at Syracuse before signing with the Panthers. The Miami native saw action in 32 games and made 10 starts for the Orange. He hauled in 26 catches for 322 yards – for an average of 12.4 yards per grab. 

Prepped at Miami’s Booker T. Washington High School and was ranked as the No. 78 receiver in the class of 2017. Johnson was a 2016 Florida 4A All-State Second Team selection and a two-time Miami Herald All-Dade County honoree, earning first-team kudos as a senior and third-team recognition as a junior while playing at Miami Jackson. As a senior led Booker T. Washington with 50 catches for 764 yards (15.3 avg.) and seven touchdowns.

Willie Reid (DB) – Detroit, Mich./Central Michigan/Cass Technical

Reid (6-1, 206) played three seasons at Central Michigan before signing with the Panthers. He was a first-team All-MAC selection in 2020 after leading the Mid-American Conference with three interceptions and tying for the top spot with two fumble recoveries. He notched 35 tackles in 2020. In 2019, he saw action in 14 games and made eight starts while recording 35 stops.

Latarie Kinsler (DL) – Pahokee, Fla./Syracuse/Pahokee

Kinsler (6-3, 223) began his collegiate career at Syracuse after prepping at football powerhouse Pahokee High School in Palm Beach County. Ranked as the No. 30 weakside defensive end in the Class of 2020 and the No. 87 player in the state of Florida, according to the 247Sports.com composite index. Was rated the No. 22 weakside defensive end nationally and No. 68 in the state by Rivals.com and was considered the No. 47 defensive end in the class and the No. 81 prospect in Florida by ESPN.

Kinsler was honored with 2019 Palm Beach Post “Super 11” selection and was No. 3 on the publication’s “Big Board” of the area’s top players. Was a two-time Sun Sentinel “Super 11” honoree and Two-time FloridaHSFootball.com Class 1A All-State selection. Additional honors included being named as a 2018 Sun Sentinel All-Palm Beach County First Team choice and earning the 2017 FloridaHSFootball.com Class 1A Defensive Player of the Year Award after collecting 60 tackles, 12 sacks and two forced fumbles as a sophomore. Tallied 56 tackles, 14 sacks and five forced fumbles as a junior and missed most of his senior season due to injury.

Sam Hill (OL) – Waynesboro, Ga./Reinhardt University/Burke County HS

Hill (6-3, 345) began his collegiate career at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, where he saw action in six games in 2021. Hill prepped at Burke County High School in Waynesboro, Ga. Possesses a large frame and the potential to compete at either guard or tackle spot on the offensive line for the Panthers.

Deyavie Hammond (OL) – Lakeland, Fla./Independence CC/Lakeland HS

Hammond (6-4, 320) played a season at both Independence Community College and East Mississippi College Junior College following a prep career at Lakeland High School. He appeared in six games with East Mississippi in 2020 and two at Independence in 2021. Hammond was listed as a four-star rated recruit in 2019.

Hammond exhibits good initial quickness and tenacious style of play. Has hands that can control and drive defenders. Does a good job of climbing to second level and getting a hat of targets. Displays good balance to stay in front of rushers when he gets hand on in pass protection. Is expected to contribute to the Panthers’ offensive line immediately.

Jacolby Hewitt (WR) – Cordova, Tenn./Indiana/Cordova HS

Hewitt (6-1, 200) competed for three seasons at the University of Indiana before transferring to FIU. He appeared in 10 games in 2021 as a wide receiver and on special teams. Also, an effective kick returner, Hewitt averaged 22.6 yards per kickoff return last season, including a long of 72 yards vs. Idaho.

During prep career at Cordova High School, Hewitt was a 2017 all-state selection. He tabbed 54 receptions for 1,070 yards (19.8 average) and 14 touchdowns as a senior, while averaging 97.3 yards per game. Capped prep career with 1,413 all-purpose yards (285 kick return, 58 rush) and was the leading receiver in the 2017 East-West All-Star Classic. He hauled in 33 passes for 694 yards and seven TDs as a junior. Was ranked the No. 29 prospect in Tennessee by ESPN.

Gunner Holmberg (QB) – Wake Forest, N.C./Duke/Heritage

Holmberg (6-3, 205) joins the Panthers as a graduate transfer after playing at Duke for the last four seasons. Last season he completed 217-of-324 passes for 2,358 yards and seven touchdowns. Saw action in six games during junior season against Virginia, Syracuse, Charlotte, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Miami. 

Lettered three seasons at Heritage High School (N.C.) where he was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN.com and three-star prospect by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com. Was charted as the No. 27 pocket passing quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com. Finished prep career with 6,987 passing yards and 65 TDs. During both his junior and senior seasons was named co-offensive player of the year in the Cap 8 4-A Conference. During senior year he completed 183-of-274 passes for 2,730 yards and 26 TDs against just eight INTs. Those passing yardage and TD totals established Heritage single-season records. During senior year, helped team to 12-2 record and berth in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) 4A state quarterfinals … During junior season he completed 200-of-311 passes for 2,485 yards and 21 TDs with 12 INTs. As a junior he helped the Huskies to an 11-3 ledger and an appearance in the quarterfinals of the NCHSAA 4AA state tournament. As a sophomore, completed 130-of-236 passes for 1,772 yards and 18 TDs.

Anya Joseph is a digital broadcasting major. She enjoys travel and sports, particularly basketball. She wants to pursue sports journalism and her goal is to work as an analyst, host, writer, editor, and reporter.