Tight end sees first touchdown at JMU

HARRISONBURG – Jonathan Kloosterman’s hard work paid off before the season started as he earned himself a James Madison University football scholarship. In JMU’s 51-0 victory over Elon on Saturday, Kloosterman had another accomplishment – his first career touchdown.

The sophomore tight end caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Vad Lee with 4:50 left in the second quarter.

“Kloo has been playing really well for us,” JMU head coach Everett Withers said. “He’s been doing a better job of blocking each week.”

Kloosterman, a Strasburg graduate, was a preferred walk-on last year, and earned playing time as the season went on. This year he has been the No. 2 tight end behind senior Deane Cheatham. Withers said that they try to get Kloosterman and Cheatham on the field at the same time when they can.

Withers said Kloosterman has also made his mark on special teams this season, and said he is “captain of the punt team.”

“His preparation each week is really good. He works extremely hard,” Withers said. “We have a lot of trust in Jon. He’s continuing to get better catching the ball and running routes. We’re really excited about Jon’s progression.”

Kloosterman had three receptions for 22 yards against Elon, and now has seven receptions for 76 yards on the season for the Dukes (7-0, 4-0 Colonial Athletic Association).

Defensive standout: JMU redshirt junior linebacker Gage Steele continues to lead the way for an improving defense.

The Warren County graduate had five tackles in the shutout over Elon. Steele said it was nice to get the shutout this past weekend.

“Shutouts are a big thing,” Steele said at JMU’s weekly press conference. “It’s something that a defense loves to see — is the big goose egg up on the board. As a defense, we strive to stop them every time we go out there.”

Steele leads the team this season with 65 tackles, including 19 tackles for loss, and one sack.

Last year Steele suffered a preseason injury that set him back for much of the year. He said it was a real learning experience for him.

“Last year was definitely hard,” Steele said of last year. “It’s only humbled me and helped me out with this year. I’ve been working out trying to make my body as healthy as it can be, so I don’t get injured. It opens my view on this year. I just look to do everything I can for the team — things that I can improve, things that I can work on as a team off the field and on the field.”

Running hard: JMU redshirt sophomore running back Cardon Johnson had another strong game for the Dukes.

Johnson rushed for 165 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. Withers said 105 of Johnson’s yards came after contact.

“I think Cardon is just a tough inside runner,” Johnson said. “Cardon is one of those guys that goes until you have to pull him off the field. It’s good that we have a number of backs that we can put in the game, because he’ll go till he drops. He’s going to try to get every inch out of a carry, and that’s really neat to see about a guy that really cares about the football team.”

Johnson has 689 yards on 98 carries and eight touchdowns this season for JMU.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com