By Tommy Keeler Jr.
HARRISONBURG -- Dean Marlowe knows there's nothing he can do about last year, when James Madison University's secondary struggled to make plays. Those struggles will help motivate Marlowe to make sure his senior season is one to remember.
"I'm thankful that I have another year to dominate," Marlowe said at JMU's media day earlier this month. "That's exactly what I want to do. Like [defensive coordinator Brandon] Staley said do you want to defend or do you want to dominate, and I want to dominate. I just want to be that secondary and be that defensive team that when offenses play against us, they're like, 'OK, they have a pretty good defense. We got to be on our game and we got to execute.' That's the type of defense that I want to be. Last year was last year. It's over with now."
If JMU's defense is going to dominate this season, the senior safety will certainly play a key role.
Marlowe had 77 tackles last year, including 36 unassisted. He had one interception and eight pass deflections. He was a second team All-CAA selection last year on defense, and was also a third-team selection at punt returner.
One of the reasons that the secondary struggled last year was they were young, but Marlowe said everyone is getting better.
"They've come a long way," Marlowe said. "They've learned a lot. They've listened a lot, not just to me but to our new coaches."
JMU has a brand-new coaching staff, including head coach Everett Withers. Marlowe said that all the changes have been good, and they've brought a new energy to the team.
Marlowe said the energy of the coaches rubs off onto the players.
"[The coaches] they do tremendous jobs at critiquing us when we do things bad, when we do great things they're sitting there jumping and high-fiving us," Marlowe said. "I feel like those are the guys that are going to put us in the best positions to be successful."
Marlowe said he wants to become an even better vocal leader this season.
Communication was one of the things that hurt the secondary last year, according to Marlowe.
"I feel like we do a good job with older guys and younger guys communicating, but we got to work on communicating on the field," Marlowe said. "Off the field we're always telling each other what you gotta do here or do there. Our biggest thing that we need to improve on I would say is communication in the backfield. And we will do that."
Marlowe is from Queens, N.Y., and said it took a little time to adjust to living in Harrisonburg, but he loves being at JMU.
"I always wanted to go to school down south. I wanted to get away from the New York City area," Marlowe said. "I've been there born and raised [in New York city], so I wanted like a new scenery, and I felt like when I came here it was like home. I felt real comfortable. I loved the campus.
"It's a huge difference coming from a big city with eight million people to the town of Harrisonburg, that I don't even know the population. It's real calm. I love being here."
Even with all the coaching changes, Marlowe said the team is closer than ever.
The Dukes have missed the playoffs four of the last five years. Marlowe said he believes the team will be successful this season. No matter how the team does, Marlowe wants to make sure he makes the most of his final college playing days.
"I'm going to go out with a bang," Marlowe said with a smile on his face. "It's been a long, long four or five years but it's went by in a heartbeat. The older guys just kept telling me don't take it for granted. Now I look back and I don't regret anything I've done. I'm just looking forward to having a great senior season."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or email@example.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd