Posted: 10:34 pm Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Benjamin OL Trenton Saunders joins Florida International’s ‘family’ 

By Matt Porter

Trenton Saunders wants to learn, which is why he committed to FIU on Monday.

Saunders

Saunders

Saunders (6-5, 280, No. 36 on the Big Board) cited two FIU coaches – offensive line coach Alex Mirabal and head coach Mario Cristobal – as his reasons for choosing the Golden Panthers. Cristobal, a former offensive lineman at Miami and ex-Hurricanes offensive line coach, and Mirabal impressed Saunders with their knowledge of the position.

The school’s Miami location also helped, but Saunders was mostly taken by what he called “a family program.”

“They’ve been around for a while,” Saunders said of the school’s coaching staff. “I feel I can strive under them and get to the next level.”

Saunders, a first-team All-Area selection in football and track (discus, shot put), projects as an offensive tackle in college. He had Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky among his finalists. He also considered FAU.

After an 8-5 season that ended with a loss to Marshall in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, Saunders feels like the Golden Panthers are quickly rising. He’s not alone.

Suncoast safety Davison Colimon, who committed to FIU two months ago, has been pushing Saunders to join him. On his Twitter account Sunday, Colimon leaked the news of Saunders’ impending commitment, but Saunders wouldn’t confirm it until Monday, after he informed other programs he was choosing FIU.

“[Colimon] has been telling me to go for a while,” Saunders said. “He tells me, ‘If we get you on board, we’ll complete this class.’”

Palm Beach Central tackle Edens Sineace (6-5, 300, No. 30) committed last week. Treasure Coast athlete Travares Copeland (6-0, 180, No. 10) has FIU among his final choices.

FIU returns 19 of 22 starters and will be keeping Cristobal, who signed a four-year extension in August. He was reportedly a finalist for the Pitt head coaching job, but the gig was filled in late December.

Saunders believes in his new coach, and he believes in his new program’s ability to move up the ranks.

“The Sun Belt may not be the only conference they’ll be in in the next four years,” he said.