Seven transfers add to JMU’s depth

JMU's Marcus Marshall (29) runs down the field during JMU's spring game on April 10. Marshall, who transferred from Georgia Tech, is one of seven transfers JMU picked up in the offseason. Photo/JMU Athletics Communications

HARRISONBURG — There are many perks that come with winning a national championship and in the offseason James Madison University took advantage of one of those.

The Dukes, the reigning Football Championship Subdivision national champions, added seven Football Bowl Subdivision transfers to this year’s squad.

“We’ve gotten a lot of attention because of that and positive publicity,” JMU head coach Mike Houston said of winning the national title. “So I think that’s always good in recruiting. That’s something we got to use to our advantage. And we can’t worry about it a whole lot otherwise.”

All seven of the transfers came from top conferences in FBS, three from the Atlantic Coast Conference, three from the Big Ten and one from the Southeastern Conference.

The Dukes added two offensive lineman in redshirt sophomore E.J. Donahue, from the University of Maryland, and Pika Leota, from the University of South Carolina.

JMU also added junior wide receiver David Eldridge, from the University of Virginia. Eldridge played at Kettle Run High School, before going to U.Va.

Last December, the Dukes added junior running back Marcus Marshall, from Georgia Tech. Marshall, whose father played at JMU, led the Yellow Jackets in rushing yards last season.

On the defensive side of the ball the Dukes added three transfers. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Gus Little transferred from Maryland. Landan Word, a sophomore linebacker, transferred from U.Va., and redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Ron’Dell Carter transferred from Rutgers University. Carter is the brother of JMU redshirt junior linebacker Robert Carter Jr.

JMU quarterback Bryan Schor said that the transfers have all meshed well with the team.

“I think one thing with the transfers I’ve noticed is the coaches did a really good job of matching transfer players with our program,” Schor said. “Since they first got in here they fit in well and they’ve made a lot of really good friends really fast. And they’re guys that we know we can put out there and trust them to know the plays and trust them to give it all.”

JMU redshirt senior defensive lineman Andrew Ankrah said that he’s been impressed with how the transfers have done so far.

He said Ron’Dell Carter has picked up things quickly and really meshed well with the defensive line.

“You would have thought he’s been here since day 1,” Ankrah said of Carter. “I’m a redshirt senior now and I feel like I’ve known him since I came in here. I know his brother is on this team, so he has a lot of comfortablility and stability here. But he’s been working his tail off, and it’s been good to see.”

Houston said because of JMU’s success they’ve been able to be selective about who they bring in, and he said he feels good about the players they’ve chosen.

He said adding the transfers has also helped to balance out the roster classes.

“All of them have multiple years left,” Houston said. “So they’re able to fill in maybe some holes here and there in recruiting over the past few years, coaching changes. To really solidify our roster not only for this year but more importantly for years to come.”