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Mon. October 26, 2009 | Keith Niebuhr

It remains to be seen how many area players the Florida International football program will sign this recruiting cycle, but a few local coaches already have given the Golden Panthers an “A” --- for effort.

“They’ve done a fabulous job in this area,” Hillsborough coach Earl Garcia said.

At last check, FIU had -- according to our reporting -- scholarship offers out to several area players. Here are some of them:

-Tarean Austin, Hillsborough, QB, Sr.
-Anthony Chickillo, Alonso, DL, Jr.
-Andre Davis, Jefferson, WR, Jr.
-Justen Davis, Alonso, WR, Sr.
-Mark Grant, Tampa Bay Tech, DL, Sr.
-Mark Hansson, Palm Harbor U., OL, Sr.
-Tim Jackson, Gibbs, DE, Sr.
-Tyler Moore, Countryside, OL, Jr.
-Phillip Ely, Plant, QB, Jr.
-Quentin Williams, Jefferson, QB, Jr.

"They realize we've got talent here," Alonso coach Mike Heldt said recently. "This is the most I've seen them around."

When Heldt says “they,” what he really means is Alex Mirabal -- the FIU assistant tasked with recruiting Tampa Bay. Garcia called Mirabal, who coaches tight ends, a “tireless worker.”

Not only that, but Mirabal apparently has a great relationship with high school coaches.

That’s probably because not long ago, he was one.

Before joining the FIU staff, Mirabal had successful stints as an assistant at both Miami Columbus and Miami Braddock.

“He’s an ex-high school coach from Miami,” Garcia said. “A lot of coaches who coached in high school have a good rapport with us because they know what we do.”

--KEITH NIEBUHR (kniebuhr@sptimes.com)

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