A mid-game swap of jersey numbers isn’t common.
But Patriot High School’s Tyler Negron, who announced his commitment to James Madison last Friday, has done it during his prep career.
“It is an odd combo,” Negron said with a bit of a chuckle. “But it depends on what we need during that week.”
Negron said he expects to play defensive line for the Dukes, but plays offensive guard, tight end and defensive end for Patriot.
The combination of guard and tight end lends itself to some logistical difficulties since offensive linemen typically wear numbers between 50 and 79 while tight ends wear anything but.
“So my junior season I actually had to do that,” Negron said. “I switched from 81 because we were struggling to pass block, so my coach threw me in 51 and that’s what I’ve stuck with for most of this year.”
The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder doesn’t know whether he’ll play defensive tackle or defensive end at JMU, but believes his versatility should benefit him once he gets to Harrisonburg.
Negron is the ninth commitment in the Dukes’ 2020 recruiting class, and in the group he’s the fourth prospect to pledge from Virginia and the third defensive lineman.
“The versatility definitely helps my vision on the defensive side of the ball,” Negron said, “with having played guard and tight end. I know what techniques [guards] use and with the tight end, those releases that those guys want to use.”
Ahead of committing to JMU, Negron earned scholarship offers from a mix of 19 different schools at the FBS and FCS levels. He narrowed those down to a final four that included two of the Dukes’ Colonial Athletic Association rivals, Richmond and William & Mary, as well as Kent State.
Some others to offer were Army, Buffalo, Charlotte, Harvard, Old Dominion, Princeton and Towson.
“The deciding factor would be a lot of the football aspect,” Negron said of selecting the Dukes over Richmond and William & Mary, “because all three of those schools are great academic schools. But JMU’s football program just really stuck out to me especially with the mentality of the team.”
Since 2016, JMU has four consecutive wins over William & Mary and three straight over Richmond.
Dukes defensive tackles coach Andrew Jackson is the lead recruiter on Negron, and Negron said both Jackson and coach Curt Cignetti were excited when he called them last week about his decision to commit. Negron said other committed players from the 2020 class have reached out to congratulate him, too.
Cignetti and Jackson initially offered Negron in early July, he said.
“It all got started on my first visit back in June,” Negron said. “But just walking around campus with Coach Jackson and talking about the defensive line and schemes, I just liked his vibe.”
Negron said familiarity with JMU quarterback Patrick Bentley, another Patriot product, helped in the decision.
The defensive lineman, Negron plans to sign with JMU in December during the early signing period and until then wants to concentrate on finishing out his senior season at Patriot with at least a few more wins.
Patriot is 8-1, leading the Cedar Run District and should have a strong seed for the Virginia High School League Region 6B postseason.
“Definitely trying to get down to one more of their games,” Negron, who visited JMU for its Sept. 7 game against St. Francis, said. “But it’s going to be a struggle because my high school team is looking to make a pretty deep playoff run this year.”