JMU Football Notebook: Alls making impact for Dukes since return

Terrence Alls

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University redshirt senior Terrence Alls has made a big impact at wide receiver since he returned three weeks ago from a suspension. JMU coach Mike Houston said his biggest impact has been his leadership by example to his teammates.

“He does the things that good football players do in practice,” Houston said Tuesday in his weekly press conference. “So that’s the reason he plays the way he does on game days. And so I hope to see our younger wide receivers start mimicking more of his practice habits throughout the week, because that’s only going to make them better.”

Alls missed the last two games of last season and the first four games of this season due to a violation of team rules.

In two games for the Dukes this year, Alls has 10 catches for 108 yards. In last weekend’s 30-8 victory over Villanova, Alls had seven receptions for 83 yards to lead the team.

Houston said he’s very happy to have Alls back on the field.

Clayton Cheatham

“The big thing with him, he had the highlight catch down there near the goal line that set-up a score there in the second half,” Houston said. “But just the common plays that he makes. The little screen passes where you get him out there one-on-one, and he’s able to convert it into a 10-12-yard gain consistently. He’s just a really solid guy with the ball in his hands.”

Alls transferred last year from Duke University and had 39 catches for 575 yards and five scores for the Dukes last season.

Houston said that it’s the little things that make Alls stand out.

“I really encourage all of our young receivers to watch the way he blocks on run plays,” Houston said. “The way that he blocks for other receivers on the screens. He’s our best blocking wideout as well as being an explosive receiver.”

IMPACT FRESHMAN: JMU senior tight end Jonathan Kloosterman has missed the last two games due to illness, and true freshman Clayton Cheatham has made the most of his opportunity to take his place.

Cheatham had another strong game last weekend with two receptions for 57 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

“He is turning out to be exactly what we envisioned him to be when we recruited him,” Houston said. “He’s a tough high school football player and a good athlete. And the thing is he’s just so smart, just a smart football player. But it’s hard to come in as a kid that never played the position and play the way he’s playing right now at tight end. But he’s a gamer, now. He’s got a fire in him. He’s going to be a good one.”

Cheatham has three receptions for 104 yards this season with two touchdowns.

Cheatham was a quarterback at Hanover High School in Richmond. His brother, Deane, was a standout tight end at JMU from 2011-15.

Houston said that there are some definitely similarities between Clayton and Deane.

“The one thing you see with (Clayton) as much as the same thing you saw with his brother Deane, he is a very physical football player and he’s a tough guy,” Houston said. “He has athletic ability and he plays with a lot of emotion.”

Houston said he expects Kloosterman to be back this week and play against William & Mary.

FOURTH QUARTER STRONG: JMU has been solid all season in the fourth quarter and the trend continued in the Dukes’ win this past weekend.

After Villanova cut the JMU lead to 16-8 the Dukes scored 14 points in the final eight minutes to put the game out of reach.

Houston said there are several things that have helped his team be so strong in the final quarter this season.

“I think it’s our conditioning and the hard work of (strength and conditioning coach John) Williams and his staff. The dedication of the kids,” Houston said. “I think that the way we play has a factor too. Because you play a physical football team, and it’s going to wear you down and it’s going to fatigue you. And I think it does speak to our depth. So I think those are the big factors right there.”

Houston said if a game is close in the fourth quarter the team feels confident in its chances for success.

“We talk about it all the time that if we can get games into the fourth quarter we can put people away,” Houston said.