FAU's defense already hurting

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

BOCA RATON Practices haven't even started to get physical and Florida Atlantic's defense has already taken some big hits.

On Monday, less than a week after losing defensive tackle Jason Pugh to a season-ending injury, the Owls found out strong safety Christian Amaya was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. And Tuesday, All-Sun Belt senior linebacker Shomari Earls left practice with a sore hamstring. He is questionable for today's practice.

Redshirt freshman Vinnie Henderson has taken the majority of snaps at Pugh's position.

"It's a major loss because of the experience he had at the tackle position," said Schnellenberger of Pugh, who tore a pectoral muscle while lifting weights last week.

Amaya lost his eligibility because the NCAA ruled his five years of eligibility began when he played for Glenville (W.Va.) State College. Amaya played there a year before transferring to South Florida, where he didn't play football, before transferring to FAU two years ago.

The school earned of Amaya's fate just hours before the first practice.

"We thought Christian was a long shot because of the NCAA's history of asinine decisions," FAU defensive coordinator Kirk Hoza said. "The NCAA needs to have a better understanding of student-athletes and what they are going through."

Sophomore Kris Bartels will have a chance to compete for the strong safety position vacated by Amaya.

FAU's defense does have three returning starters, including Earls and senior cornerback Willie Hughley, who has a program-best 14 interceptions.

"I have confidence in everyone I am playing with because we all know what's at stake and what's expected of us," said Earls, a Palm Beach Gardens graduate who led the Owls with 81 tackles.

Noteworthy: The last stop of the Owl Tour will be from 6-8 tonight fromat Duffy's Jupiter East (185 E. Indiantown Road).... Freshman running back Charles Pierre left practice early with a pulled hamstring