St Francis Pa James Madison Football

James Madison coach Curt Cignetti watches from his sideline during the Dukes’ win over St. Francis last month at Bridgeforth Stadium.

His plan for recruiting during the bye week shouldn’t surprise anyone.

James Madison coach Curt Cignetti, the former recruiting coordinator for Alabama, uses a deliberate approach and makes no decisions on a prospect until he feels he has all the necessary information to do so.

“What I’ve learned through the years is that I don’t like to send the coaches out for three days during the week,” Cignetti said about the schedule for his staff with the Dukes idle this weekend and no game until Nov. 9 at home against New Hampshire. “You get a lot more done nowadays organizing your recruiting and evaluating tape from this year, evaluating the [transfer] portal in the office and getting a sense about where you want to go.”

His assistants are set to only travel on Friday to visit prospects, he said.

Currently, JMU has eight verbal commitments for its 2020 class. The early signing date is Dec. 18 and Cignetti’s expectation is for those eight to sign then.

“With technology, it’s easy to reach out to people nowadays,” Cignetti said. “In the old days, you had to go out a little more to get the face-to-face contact and that’s really not the case anymore.”

And that lines up with what some of the prospects who have already pledged to JMU are saying.

West Lafayette (Ind.) quarterback Kyle Adams said he hasn’t gone a week without speaking to Dukes offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery this fall. Montgomery is the lead recruiter on Adams, who committed to JMU in July after earning other scholarship offers from Bryant, Furman, Indiana State, Morehead State, Southeast Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois and Wofford.

“I talk to him every Thursday night,” Adams said. “We just talk about things. I let him know who we’re playing, what we’ve got and how the rest of the season is looking. And he’s keeping me updated on what they’re doing. He gives me a little run down of the game plan, so I’ve been in contact with Coach Montgomery once a week every week throughout the season.”

Regular contact from the staff for Buckingham Browne & Nichols (Cambridge, Mass.) cornerback Sam Malignaggi and Mater Dei (Middletown, N.J.) defensive end Khurram Simpson led to very comfortable game day visits at JMU, they said. Malignaggi was in Harrisonburg this past weekend for the Dukes’ meeting with Towson and Simpson made a trip to JMU earlier this month for the matchup with Villanova.

Malignaggi said he is closest with cornerbacks coach Matt Birkett and safeties coach Ryan Smith. Simpson said he has a great relationship with defensive coordinator Corey Hetherman.

“I watched [defensive ends Ron’Dell Carter and John Daka] a lot,” Simpson said. “So I’m really excited to play for Coach Hetherman and Coach Cignetti, and I can’t wait to get started at JMU.”

Adams visited the school twice in the summer and said he’d like to make it to Bridgeforth Stadium for a game, but with the long distance and the quick turnaround required after playing on Friday night it’s difficult – especially with playoffs in the state of Indiana already underway.

The signal-caller led West Lafayette to a state title last year and is trying to do the same this postseason.

Most of the other eight commitments will begin postseason play in the coming weeks.

“A lot of us have a group chat, so we stay in touch,” Adams said about the JMU 2020 recruiting class. “But it’s cool to see how everyone else is doing. There seems to be a lot of success among all of us, which is another cool thing that a lot of guys that know how to win.”

Malignaggi said the league his prep team plays in doesn’t have playoffs, but instead has bowl games pitting conference champions against each other and that his school is seeking its fourth straight bowl appearance.

“Playing for a winning tradition like JMU is really important to me because I’ve played for a winning tradition my whole high school career,” Malignaggi, who plans to enroll early at JMU in January, said. “So that’s what I’m excited for.”

In the past Cignetti has said he values prospects that come from winning programs, but that it’s just part of the formula and criteria he uses to determine whether or not he’ll offer a player a scholarship. The coach can’t speak about specific prospects until they sign their Letter of Intent.

All eight of the current pledges were offered and committed to the Dukes during the summer.

“The most important thing I think is to make sure your direction is correct,” Cignetti said. “That you are going in on the right guys and that you have them in the right pecking order. That you’ve assessed your needs for next year and the long-term needs. Don’t move too fast, don’t be in a hurry. That’s the biggest thing.

“I want to save a couple [scholarships] for the end of spring, because there’s a transfer wave in December and a transfer wave in May and it’s really important that we hit on the guys that we take.”

Here are updates on the high school seasons of all eight current commits in the 2020 class:

QB Kyle Adams

Through 10 games, Adams has completed 73.8 percent of his throws for 3,408 yards and 51 touchdowns. West Lafayette has a sectional playoff game Friday at Guerin Catholic.

CB Xavier Cokley

The Franklin High School (Reisterstown, Md.) standout has four interceptions and 12 pass breakups while helping his team to a 6-2 start.

DE Mikail Kamara

Stone Bridge (Ashburn) defensive end Mikail Kamara plays for an 8-0 squad closing in on a Potomac District championship. He has 56 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and eight sacks while spending time at defensive end, defensive tackle and outside linebacker.

CB Sam Malignaggi

Malignaggi has 30 tackles, five pass breakups and two interceptions on defense to go along with more than 700 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on offense.

OL Cole Potts

For St. Frances DeSales (Columbus, Ohio), Potts starts on both the offensive and defensive lines. His team is 8-1 and has clinched a spot in the postseason. Potts said he has “tons of pancakes and many tackles” and that his “team is very successful and excited to see how far we take it.”

DE Khurram Simpson

Simpson said Mater Dei is 5-3 and has its last regular season game this week. He has 50 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks at his defensive end spot and has also worked some at tight end, too.

OL Tyler Stephens

The Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach) star said his team has a bye this week having already compiled a 6-3 record with one more regular-season game to go and that “I’m very happy with my weight, strength and how I’m playing.”

CB Antonio Webb Jr.

Antonio Webb Jr.’s senior season for Life Christian Academy (Chester) was cut short due to a minor injury, he said. But in three games he registered 28 tackles and two pass breakups. He was selected to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl on Jan. 4, 2020 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Contact Greg Madia at 574-6296 or

Follow Greg on Twitter: @Madia_DNRSports

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