JMU roundup: Dukes name Elliott to football coaching staff

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University football has named Brett Elliott as the quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator, head coach Everett Withers announced on Friday.

Elliott takes over for Drew Mehringer, who is now on the football coaching staff at the University of Houston.

Most recently, Elliott was on the offensive staff at Mississippi State for the past three seasons, working on offensive quality control. During his time with the Bulldogs, the team finished with its highest Associated Press ranking since 1940 by finishing No. 11 this past season, while also tying for its highest Coaches Poll finish at No. 12. This season’s squad won 10 games for the first time in school history and played in the Orange Bowl for the first time since 1941. The team also broke 29 individual and team single-season records during the 2014 season with the top offense in school history, led by First Team All-Southeastern Conference quarterback Dak Prescott.

After his collegiate playing days, Elliott signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League. He also played for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe and was under contract with the San Jose SaberCats when the league halted operations in late 2008. Elliott also played in the Arena League as a starter for the Utah Blaze in 2010 and the Georgia Force in 2011.

A native of Lake Oswego, Ore., Elliott played his redshirt freshman year at the University of Utah before transferring to Linfield College. In 2005 at Linfield, he won the Gagliardi Trophy and Melberger Award, given to the top player in Division III. Elliott was twice named an All-American and led Linfield to the 2004 NCAA Division III national championship. During his playing career, he set Linfield and Northwest Small College single-game, single-season and career passing records and broke the all-divisions record for most touchdown passes in one season — throwing for 61 scores in 2004. He graduated in 2006 from Linfield with his bachelor’s degree in mass communication.

Coming off their first playoff appearance since 2011, the Dukes will open the 2015 campaign in Bridgeforth Stadium on Sept. 5 against Morehead State.

Women’s soccer

PHILADELPHIA — With the second pick in the third round of the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft, defender Sam Lofton of the James Madison women’s soccer team was selected by the Boston Breakers. The pick is the 20th overall selection in the draft.

Lofton becomes the first player to be drafted by a NWSL team from JMU. The league, which began play in Spring 2013, is the highest level of professional women’s soccer league in the United States. Overall, Lofton is the second player picked in the primary draft by a professional team in the U.S., as midfielder Teresa Rynier (’11) was taken in the fourth round of the 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer College Draft by the Philadelphia Independence.

In her final season with JMU in 2014, Lofton posted career highs in goals (3), game-winning goals (3), assists (7) and points (13) while starting all 20 games for the Dukes. With 12 career assists, Lofton finished her career tied for 25th on the program’s all-time chart.

Following her highly-successful senior season, Lofton was named a First Team All-CAA performer, Second Team NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region honoree, First Team ECAC All-Star honoree and First Team VaSID All-State performer. Throughout the season, Lofton climbed the ranks on TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Top 20 in the Colonial Athletic Association. She started the season unranked, only to check in at No. 16 midway through the season and finish the campaign as the No. 6 player in the conference.

Only 36 players were taken in the draft with UCLA having six players drafted. Virginia’s Morgan Brian went first overall to the Houston Dash.

The NWSL begins play in the 2015 season on April 10, with the Breakers opening their season on April 11 on the road against Portland Thorns FC.