- To find gold, prospectors went west. To uncover recruiting gems, James
Madison's coaches headed north this year.
JMU football coach Mickey Matthews announced the
addition of 18 recruits Wednesday - including five who received at least two
stars from Rivals.com.
As for the more northerly tinge, seven were from
Northern Virginia, two from Maryland and two from New Jersey.
"It's hard to get guys to come north to school,"
Matthews, a native Texan, said Wednesday at a press conference to announce the
signings. "As I like to tell everyone, the only thing southern about James
Madison is my accent. Very few people from North Carolina and Georgia come to
school at JMU. You walk around the campus, you see lots of license plates from
Maryland and New Jersey and Connecticut."
The Dukes' northern haul includes probably the two most
vaunted newcomers, according to Matthews.
Defensive end Jordan Stanton (6-foot-4, 260
pounds) of Robinson High School in Fairfax passed on offers from a pair of
Atlantic Coast Conference schools - Boston College and Maryland - to play for
JMU. Defensive end Sean O'Neil (6-4, 230) of River Dell High School in
Oradell, N.J., turned down an offer from Akron, as well as most of the northern
schools in the Colonial Athletic Association, to join the Dukes.
"I'd sign those two guys at Georgia," Matthews, a former
University of Georgia assistant, said. "You watch tape, they can do it all.
They're going to get a lot bigger. They can run. They have excellent flexibility
in their hips. I'd sign 10 just like those two every year."
Matthews said his desire to add more players from New
Jersey was the driving force behind hiring defensive backs coach Mark Hendricks
before last season. Hendricks is a Deptford, N.J., native and coached at
Division III Rowan in the Garden State.
"The high school football is excellent up there,"
Matthews said. "We searched for a guy that could recruit New Jersey and signed
Hendricks, in turn, helped JMU land O'Neil and wide
receiver and defensive back Leavander Jones, a 5-10, 165-pound prospect
from Pleasantville, N.J., who originally committed to Syracuse.
Matthews said this year's recruiting effort focused on
finding help for a now-depleted JMU secondary. Madison signed three potential
defensive backs: Jones, Frederick, Md.'s Jakarie Jackson (5-11, 175)
and San Mateo Community College's Richard Wilson (6-2, 195), who has
two years of eligibility.
JMU also added Marshall transfer Ryan Smith,
who is already enrolled at the school this semester and will take part in spring
practice, as will defensive end Nick Emmons, a transfer from Army.
Among the other highlights of the class were two
recruits rated as three-star prospects (on a scale of zero to five) by the
recruiting Web site Rivals.com and three who are listed as two-stars.
Glen Allen High linebacker Adrian Cavanaugh
(6-0, 215) and Fork Union tight end Jonathan Sharp (6-3, 225) are the
three-star players. Jones, Stanton and Catonsville, Md., wide receiver Renard
Robinson (6-0, 185) ranked as two stars.
Matthews said JMU likes to add a quarterback every year
and did so this year with Murrieta, Calif.'s Kavon Seaton (5-11, 190),
who played the past year at Navy Prep in Rhode Island.
Matthews also said the Dukes will annually pursue the
top prospect in the Shenandoah Valley, which he said they accomplished in
signing R.E. Lee High School quarterback Dae'Quan Scott.
"As we evaluated the Valley this year, we thought he was
not only the best player, he also was the best college prospect," Matthews said
of the 5-9, 170-pound Scott, who initially committed to Richmond before
switching. "So we recruited him very hard and we're lucky to get him."
Madison's Northern Virginia recruits were Stanton,
Ashburn running back Daniel Allen (5-10, 170), Centreville running back
Jordan Anderson (5-11, 200), Ashburn wide receiver Arlandis
Harvey (6-0, 180), McLean offensive lineman Scott Jones (6-4,
260), Fredericksburg offensive lineman Matt Krout (6-5, 265) and
Kingstown linebacker Stephon Robertson (5-11, 200).
JMU also signed McLeansville, N.C., kicker Will
Gann (5-10, 160), and Roanoke linebacker Tyler Snow (6-3, 225).
Matthews said he has the equivalent of about two
scholarships left and expects a high school senior safety to visit JMU early
next week. He also is looking for a I-A transfer safety or wide receiver, if one
Division I-A Marshall and Mid-American Conference
schools, Matthews said, were I-AA JMU's biggest recruiting rivals this year,
even more so than the CAA foes and Appalachian State.
NOTES: Matthews said linebacker Jamie Veney (shoulder)
and safety Pat Williams (sports hernia) are both likely to miss spring practice
after offseason surgeries.