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JMU may be perfect fit for Wilson

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Jeremiah Wilson

By Tommy Keeler Jr.- tkeeler@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG -- Jeremiah Wilson has found a home, and one that may be a perfect fit for the Handley graduate.

Wilson committed to the University of Maryland out of high school, and was with the Terrapins for two seasons before transferring to James Madison University last winter.

"I came here with Titus Till, and he came here from Maryland with me, so the transition wasn't that bad," Wilson said at JMU's media day on Aug. 24. "The guys here -- they're pretty good dudes. They welcomed us and we're like a family now."

Wilson redshirted his first year at Maryland, but was on the scout team offense, even though he was there as a defensive back.

After the first year, Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen was fired and replaced by Randy Edsall, who decided to use Wilson as a running back.

Last year as redshirt freshman, Wilson played in all 12 games for the Terrapins. He had five carries for 16 yards, and one reception for three yards. He was also used on special teams, where he returned five kickoffs for 122 yards.

After the season, Wilson decided he was better off somewhere else and transferred to JMU, a Football Championship Subdivision school.

Wilson enrolled at JMU for the spring semester and worked with the Dukes during the spring session. He said it was very helpful having the spring session to get used to JMU's plays.

"[The spring] helped me out a lot," Wilson said. "Everything that we've put in so far [in the fall] I already knew, so it's nothing new."

The biggest adjustment for Wilson has been getting used to playing on defense again. Wilson said he hasn't really played on defense since his senior year of high school.
JMU defensive coordinator Kyle Gillenwater said Wilson has done really well, and they have high hopes for him.

"His personality fits well with our kids," Gillenwater said. "The only thing he's got to do is learn our system, get comfortable with the new position. I'm happy with the progress he's made [so] far."

One thing that has really helped Wilson with the transition to JMU has been having fellow redshirt sophomore defensive back Till with him. The two have been friends since they came to Maryland together.

"When we first came in as freshmen we were in the same dorm room, so from the jump that was my boy," Till said. "When we got to a time when we wanted to transfer, we were talking about schools we were thinking about. He was thinking about James Madison and I was, too. And I was like, Let's do it. Let's go do something big here at James Madison.'"

Till said the two shared an apartment off campus during the spring, and were able to help each other as they adjusted to living in Harrisonburg.

Wilson said it's also been a real blessing to be closer to home.

"In the springtime I went home a lot," Wilson said. "And in the summer I went home a lot, spent a lot of time with my family. It's always nice being home and they're going to come out to a lot more of my games."

Wilson suffered a hamstring injury during the second day of practice, but said it should be fine. Before the preseason practices started, he was listed second on the depth chart at left cornerback. Wilson is also expected to play on special teams at kick returner some as well.

Wilson said he loves playing on defense again, and he feels like he's fit in well with the rest of the secondary on the team.

"We're all close," Wilson said. "When we're in the meeting room, we're all joking around. It ain't nobody mad for taking anybody's spot. We're all brothers in there. We're just trying to all teach each other, because at the end of the day when we get on the field we're the last [line of defense]. If they get behind us, it's a touchdown."

The Dukes have high hopes for the season. Last year they went 8-5, losing in the second round of the FCS playoffs to eventual national champion North Dakota State.

Wilson said he's pretty optimistic about how well the team can do this year.

"We got a good offense," Wilson said. "We got a great quarterback, a great defense. Our second-team defense is just as good as out first-team defense. That's always nice.

"I expect us to go along way."

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