Published On: Tue, Nov 24th, 2020

Florida Atlantic Owls Football News

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Sanders Doesn’t Give a Hoot About Owls

The dominoes began to fall a few months ago when former six-time All-Pro NFL cornerback Deion Sanders signed on to be Jackson State’s newest head football coach. It was, in reality, a two-for-one deal for the Tigers as they knew that son Shedeur would likely be following in dad’s footsteps, despite committing to the Owls in July as their top high school recruit and rated the 60th best prospect in the nation. 

Prime Time’s star power still shines brightly at 53 years-old as Jackson State also got a commitment from Herman Smith, who previously committed to Dan Diego State and is slated to be a defensive back at the collegiate level. In total, five high schoolers including Sanders and Smith have committed to Jackson State since Neon Deion took the job.

Shedeur Sanders is now the highest-rated recruit ever in the FCS Southwestern Athletic Conference and stated his reasons for joining his father after de-committing from FAU, “That was the elephant in the room,” Sanders told The Undefeated. “I just wanted to go ahead and get the conversation over with and really talk about it.”

“He told me his plan. I evaluated the whole program and everything he wanted to do there. The most important thing to me was my development. Basically, I wanted to know who was on the staff, and with the people on the staff, I feel like I can get the most development and go to that next level.

“He’s my father and at the end of the day, he doesn’t want to influence me or kind of force me to do something. I thought it was good that he didn’t really talk to me about it.”

It’s too bad for the Owls, as poaching elite quarterbacks from the high school pool is a difficult task but for now, Nick Tronti will have to suffice. Speaking of the 6’2” junior, he hasn’t been flashy but he has been reliable this season in leading FAU to a 3-1 record and tossing for 490 yards with three touchdown passes and rushing for two more. 

However, last week freshman Javion Posey took the reins of the offense in the fourth quarter and secured the 10-6 win over Western Kentucky with an 11-yard jaunt into the endzone. Who will be under center this week is anyone’s guess when the team suits up against their Shula Bowl rivals, FIU.

Shula Bowl Showdown

The Owls will be gunning for their fourth straight Shula Bowl victory when they meet their archrivals from Florida International. Florida Atlantic has won the last three matchups and for those who like to back up their opinions with cold, hard, cash SportsBetting has odds for NCAA football [Full review], including this game where FAU has been installed as 9 ½ point road favorites. 

The Owls’ first-year head coach, Willie Taggert, will take part in his first Shula Bowl and said, “All I need to know is we don’t like each other,” Taggart said. “Everyone let me know from Day 1, that one of the most important games on the schedule is that one.”

“[The Panthers] have some talent on their football team. You can’t take them lightly. They got athletes all around. Got to make sure that we’re all locked in. Can we put it together and play our best ball game? It’ll be a great opportunity to do it against FIU this week.”

There has been a noticeable buzz in the locker room leading up to this annual showdown, one in which FAU has won 13 of the 18 meetings, and defensive coordinator, Jim Leavitt, and co-offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer are also brand new to the experience having been elsewhere last season.

“They’re going to test us hard,” Leavitt said. “If we can’t hold up, then we’re not going to be very good.”

“This one is fun, and you can feel it from our kids,” Mehringer said. “We’re going to have to play our best game.”

Graduate student TJ Chase, the Owls reception leader this season with 12 catches for 167 yards and a trip into the endzone, is all too familiar with in-state rivalries, from his previous seasons as a member of national powerhouse Clemson. 

“The energy is at a high level,” he said. “We’re focused on keeping the trophy here, and bringing it home with us Friday night.”

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