Just One Flips
JMU Loses QB To W&M, But Everyone Else Signs
HARRISONBURG — The James Madison football team was originally hoping to sign 17 players Wednesday, the first day the NCAA allowed high school recruits to officially commit to colleges.
The Dukes got 16.
Monticello quarterback Jhalil Mosley — the only QB in JMU’s 2013 class — spurned Madison and signed with Colonial Athletic Association rival William & Mary instead.
JMU coach Mickey Matthews said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Mosley flipped his pick last month. Mosley had been the third 2013 player to commit to JMU, picking Madison in July.
“He informed us three weeks ago, four weeks ago that he was not going to sign with us, and that was OK,” Matthews said during a press conference Wednesday at the Plecker Center. “The only problem was, when we committed him back in July, we told him he was going to be the only quarterback we signed. I had not even had any discussions with any quarterbacks.”
Matthews said he likely will bring in a four-year transfer in the spring to compensate for the loss of Mosley, who told WVIR-TV in Charlottesville that Madison’s coaching staff changes were a factor in his decision to defect to William & Mary.
“I’m not going to lie; the coaching staff and the changes at JMU had something to do with it,” Mosley told the TV station. “The coaches at William & Mary, they were there on a day-to-day basis. I talked with them every day, whether it was on the phone or Facebook. I just grew a big relationship with them.”
Attempts by the News-Record to reach Mosley on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Matthews said, overall, the staff changes — he fired offensive coordinator Jeff Durden and offensive line coach Chris Malone in December, and tight ends coach Latrell Scott left to become the head coach at Division II Virginia State — didn’t affect recruiting.
“We were so far along in recruiting a lot of these guys,” said Matthews, who is entering his 15th season. “I went to see all the commits in December, and they were all fine — even [Mosley] was fine. At the end, in might hurt that deal, but overall, it didn’t really affect it at all, which I didn’t think it would.”
JMU needs a quarterback to back up its new starter, sophomore Michael Birdsong. The in-house options are sophomore Lafonte Thourogood, a Vanderbilt transfer, and freshmen Ian Fisher and Taylor Reynolds. Fisher and Reynolds redshirted in 2012 and spent most of the time playing other positions on the scout team.
Matthews said he wouldn’t “rule out those guys playing some quarterback” in the spring, but added that Reynolds has been spending a lot of time with the defensive backs, a position the 6-1, 185-pounder played on the scout team in the fall. Fisher (6-6, 245) played a lot of tight end and showcased excellent hands.
The focus of the 2013 class was size and linemen. JMU signed seven players with the potential to play on one line or the other: Andrew Ankrah (6-4, 220, Quince Orchard High School in Maryland), Brandon Brown (6-4, 240, Matoaca), Nick Edwards (6-4, 225, Kellam), Cody Hendrickson (6-3, 250, York), Evans Osuji (6-4, 235, West Orange H.S. in New Jersey), Simeyon Robinson (6-2, 265, First Colonial) and Aaron Stinnie (6-5, 260, St. Anne’s-Belfield).
Matthews said it is too soon to project who will end up at what position, using current JMU offensive lineman Josh Wells as an example. Wells, now 6-5 and 300 pounds, played quarterback at Hanover.
“We felt like we really needed to bring in some offensive line and defensive line prospects,” Matthews said. “… Everyone has a great running back and a great receiver; they’re a dime a dozen; they’re everywhere; they’re good football players. But God did not make many big guys that are athletic and good students and change direction and have good flexibility, and it’s just really hard to find big guys. I don’t care if you’re here or Alabama.”
JMU also signed five wide receivers: Jordan Brown (6-1, 190, Seneca Valley H.S. in Pennsylvania), Rashard Davis (5-9, 180, Charlottesville), Brandon Ravenel (5-10, 180, North Stafford), Blaine Stewart (6-2, 190, Morgantown H.S. in West Virginia) and Brad Szoka (5-11, 180, Loudoun County).
Matthews said it wasn’t a conscious decision to recruit so many wide receivers, even though he has said JMU will shift to a pass-based offense next season. He is expected to hire Air Raid offense innovator Hal Mumme as his offensive coordinator, with an announcement coming in the next several days.
When asked if it were possible to infer anything about the new offense based on all the wideouts, Matthews said, “No, not really. It just kind of worked out that way.”
The biggest “name” of the Dukes’ 2013 recruiting class is Ravenel. He is the only player to receive any rating from the recruiting website Rivals.com. Ravenel — who was recruited by Malone — also had scholarship offers from four I-A schools: West Virginia, Boston College Purdue and Temple. Old Dominion, which is jumping to from I-AA to I-A next season, also offered.
“He just does it all,” Matthews said. “We had him in camp. … No one could touch him after he’d catch the ball. He can accelerate. He can catch the ball. What I liked about him best, he was a tough guy on film. He would go over the middle and catch the ball. That’s why West Virginia and those people all offered him.”