FIU’s football program lost a lot this year.
But it may lose even more soon.
Star wide receiver Tyrese Chambers told the Miami Herald on Sunday that he hasn’t ruled out transferring to a Power 5 school.
“I’m going to leave that in God’s hands,” Chambers said. “I don’t have an answer on that for the moment. I’m going to go home [to Baltimore], talk it over with my family, my pastor, my mentors.
“But my ultimate goal is to play in the NFL.”
Chambers has to decide if FIU is still for him. The Panthers finished an abysmal 1-11 season on Saturday with a 37-17 loss at Southern Miss. The Panthers have lost 11 consecutive games overall and 18 in a row to FBS teams, the longest FIU drought since dropping 23 in a row from 2006 to 2007.
FIU also lost its coach as Butch Davis’ contract won’t be picked up, and athletic director Pete Garcia resigned.
On top of all that, quarterback Max Bortenschlager — who set FIU’s single-season passing record on Saturday — told the Herald last week that he is done playing college ball. He will next train for a shot at the NFL.
The same is expected of fifth-year running back D’vonte Price, who suffered through an injury-plagued season, rushing for 703 yards and six touchdowns in nine games.
But the worst in a series of bad news for FIU would be losing Chambers, who on Saturday broke the FIU single-season records for receiving yards with 1,074 and the receiving TDs record with nine.
The legendary T.Y. Hilton had the previous yardage record with 1,038 in 2011. Tight end Jonnu Smith, now an NFL star along with Hilton, had the previous TD record with eight in 2014.
In other words, Chambers broke records held by the two most accomplished NFL players in FIU history.
Bortenshclager, meanwhile, broke Alex McGough’s single-season passing-yardage mark of 2,798 in 2017.
McGough went on to get drafted in the seventh round by the NFL, but Bortenschlager eclipsed him with 2,935 yards.
Chambers and Bortenschlager hooked up on Saturday for a 91-yard TD pass. That first-quarter play cut FIU’s deficit to 21-7. It was the longest pass play in Panthers history, and it was also Chambers’ ninth score of the season.
At some point in the first half, Chambers was notified by a graduate assistant that he had set these records, especially the one held by Hilton.
“I got emotional,” said Chambers, who admitted he shed a few tears. “People don’t understand what I’ve gone through in my life to get to this point.
“T.Y. is such a big name at this school. To beat his record was cool.”
At age 22, Chambers said he needs another year to graduate.
Whether he plays that season at FIU or elsewhere, Chambers said he still has a lot left in the tank.
“From people outside looking in, I had an historic season,” Chambers said. “But I haven’t reached my full potential. I had two touchdowns taken away by penalties, and I felt I could’ve been used a lot more.”
Chambers finished second in Conference USA in yards per catch (23.9) and fourth in the league in receiving yards.
He also stayed healthy all 12 games.
“I take good care of my body,” Chambers said. “I don’t smoke. I’ve never tried alcohol. I try to be smart and eat right. My body is pure.”
Even so, Chambers said he has always been underestimated — from a public high school in Baltimore to a junior college to an FCS program called Sacred Heart and to FIU.
“I feel like I can play anywhere in the country, and I shouldn’t have to keep changing schools to prove that,” Chambers said. “If I leave FIU, it’s to put a little more money in my pocket.
“No disrespect to the administration, but I shouldn’t be struggling with food or transportation. Those things would definitely be taken care of at a Power 5.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Former Killian High running back Frank Gore Jr. — son of the former NFL star — was a big reason why Southern Miss beat FIU. Gore ran 13 times for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 4-of-5 passes for 81 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.
▪ Former Gulliver Prep safety Gabe Taylor, the younger brother of the late Sean Taylor, had the game-clinching interception with 12 seconds left on Saturday as Rice held on to beat Louisiana Tech, 35-31. That happened on the 14th anniversary of Sean Taylor’s murder.
▪ Gabe Taylor, a redshirt freshman, led the team with 44 solo tackles and ranked second with three interceptions.