James Madison and West Virginia try to outdo each other with bizarre decisions

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James Madison and West Virginia try to outdo each other with bizarre decisions

James Madison may hail from the FCS, but it has a track record of making things close with FBS teams. The Dukes have beaten three teams from the other side of Division I since 2010, which ranks second among FCS teams over that span.

On Saturday, JMU traveled to West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers in what proved to be a sloppy yet exciting contest through the end. But then, late in the fourth quarter, things started to get weird.

The Dukes were down 20-13 with three and half minutes left in the fourth quarter and no timeouts when they faced a 4th-and-8 situation from their own 22-yard line. But rather than go for the first down, JMU head coach Curt Cignetti trotted out the punt team—leaving college football fans pretty confused to say the least.

https://twitter.com/alex_kirshner/status/1167906172969480198?s=20

JMU got the ball back with a little less than a minute to play, but a holding call and a Mountaineers sack ended the Dukes’ chances of leaving Morgantown with a victory.

Yet even though the game ended, the strange events continued to unfold. West Virginia players gave first-year head coach Neal Brown a Gatorade bath to celebrate the win—a tradition typically reserved for games that end with trophy ceremonies.

It’s only Week 1, folks. If James Madison and West Virginia are any indication, this season is going to be an interesting one.

MORE NCAA NEWS:

National Signing Day 2019: How did things shake out in the DMV? 

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National Signing Day 2019: How did things shake out in the DMV? 

February's official National Signing Day is finally here as prospective college football players sign their National Letters of Intent to their preferred school.

Playing off my January 10 DMV-related things to consider ahead of February's official signing day -- and in no particular rhyme, rhythm, sequence or order -- how did things shake out in the DMV?

1. Maryland and Mike Locksley lock up 11 of their 17 incoming recruits on Wednesday, headlined by four-star QB Lance LeGendre. 

LeGendre, a four-star quarterback from New Orleans, chose to call College Park home over Florida State and is considered one of the top dual-threat guys in his class.

Seven of the 17 class members hail from D.C., Maryland or Virginia.

2. Virginia Tech adds three key pieces to head coach Justin Fuente's 2019 class Wednesday, including offensive guard Doug Nester.

When former starter Josh Jackson and backup Hendon Hooker announced their plans to transfer in January, the Hokies turned their attention to Knox Kadum. The 6-foot-3, 188-pound QB verbally committed to James Madison Jan. 27, but after offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen flew to Georgia to see Kadum throw, things took a dynamic turn. The official scholarship was offered shortly after. Life changed.

Nester, who had long been committed to Ohio State, changed his mind late in the game after an official visit Sunday. The Kenova, West Virginia native is a four-star 6-foot-6, 300-pounder ready to work the trenches for offensive line coach Vance Vice.

3. The Virginia Cavaliers did most of their damage during the Early Signing Day, but received several solid commitments Wednesday nonetheless.

Bronco Mendenhall received a commitment from three-star quarterback Luke Wentz. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound athlete hails from Germany and plays for the Paderborn Dolphins. Say hello to the first-ever European quarterback to sign with a Power 5 school.

Another Wednesday signee brings plenty of experience to Charlottesville. Alex Gellerstedt joins the Cavs as a grad transfer with two years of eligibility after appearing in eight career games over the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

4. Richmond signed an offensive lineman who led his high school to four-straight conference championships in Viera, Florida.

Gavin Lamp was a key part of an impressive run at Viera High School during his four years on the team. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound lineman should have a chance to come in and compete right away for the Spiders.

Noah Holmes (LB, Warhill), Marlem Lewis (DE, Venice, Florida), Scott Schenke (LG/DE, Venice, Florida), and Xavier Marshall (DB, Charlotte, North Carolina) round out the rest of Richmond's Wednesday signees.

5. First-year West Virginia head coach Neal Brown lands first signee of tenure.

Defensive lineman Jordan Jefferson (Navarre, Florida) flew under the radar in recruiting but may have landed with the Mountaineers due to members of Brown's staff having come from the Troy University football program.

6. James Madison 2019 class features three signees who played together at Good Counsel in Olney, Maryland.

Jalen Green (OLB), Julio Ayamel (ILB) and most recently Latrele Palmer (RB) will bring teammate chemistry to Harrisonburg and join a team that went 9-4 before losing to Colgate in the second round of the 2018 FCS playoffs

7. Old Dominion adds four players to the 28 total entering Norfolk following a season that saw the Monarchs finish with eight losses for the first time in program history.

Among Wednesday's signees was Lake Taylor wide receiver Javon Harvey. The Norfolk, Virginia native caught 36 passes for 866 yards and 10 touchdowns as a receiver. On the other side of the ball, he logged 50 tackles with eight pass break-ups and three interceptions as a defensive back for the Titans, who reached the Class 4 state championship game.

8. First-year William & Mary head coach Mike London solidifies 10 players for his 2019 class on Wednesday, including a lineman from St. John's College High School.

6-foot-4, 331-pound Rian Haigler joins the Tribe after a solid high school career which has him ready and well-equipped to play guard, tackle or center at the next level.

9. First-year head coach Hugh Freeze and Liberty land two of the state’s top cornerbacks Wednesday.

Ocean Lakes High’s Tayvion Land and Manchester High’s Kei’Trel Clark join the Flames as third and fourth signees from Virginia in this class. Land, a four-star prospect by Rivals' standards, is the first four-star recruit to sign with Liberty.

10. This has long been solidified, but DeMatha Catholic's DeMarco Hellams is Alabama bound to play for the legendary Nick Saban. 

The 2018 All-Met Offensive Player of the Year hauled in 78 receptions for well over 1,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. But don't forget: he's committed to play defensive back at Alabama. The two-way player had 12 interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns, and 91 tackles. 

MORE NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: 

10 DMV-related things to watch ahead of February's official National Signing Day

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10 DMV-related things to watch ahead of February's official National Signing Day

In just two weeks, a slew of top-rated high school football prospects will rile up fan bases across the country with their college decision announced on National Signing Day. 

Here are 10 DMV-related things to consider as we creep closer to the first Wednesday in February.  

1. Who will join Isaiah Hazel, Deonte Banks, Dino Tomlin, Lavonte Gater, Mason Lunsford, and Malik Jackson to make up the rest of Mike Locksley's first-year recruiting class in College Park? 

Maryland has received verbal commitments from Tayvion Land (CB, Virginia Beach), Jordan Houston (APB, Oakton), Kameron Blount (OLB, Waldorf), David Summers (PRO, Trumbull) and Deshawn Holt (WDE, Waldorf). 

2. Does Virginia Tech add onto its already confirmed list of 19 early signees? 

Head coach Justin Fuente's class is led by five four-star players in offensive lineman Bryan Hudson, Jaden Payoute, defensive back J.R. Walker, wide receiver Tayvion Robinson and running back Keshawn King. The Hokies aren't expected to make any other moves, but be on the lookout for under-the-radar JUCO kids. 

3. Can Bronco Mendenhall and the University of Virginia smoothly turn a page after losing the school's all-time leading receiver Olamide Zaccheaus? 

Filling the shoes of the 2018 Belk Bowl MVP won't be easy but the Cavaliers should be in good position to do so. Zaccheaus is the lone receiver the team is losing from its 2018 roster. Virginia returns its three outside receivers while adding three more from the 2019 class (Dontayvion Wicks, Nathaniel Beal III & Dorien Goddard). 

4. Will West Virginia's focus and commitment to the state of Georgia continue to pay off? 

Four of the current 16 signees in the 2019 class hail from Georgia and it certainly doesn't hurt that several members of first-year head coach Neal Brown's incoming staff have ties to the state. Recruiting from the Peach State has proven to be worth it in the past as names like Bruce Irvin and Pacman Jones both tore it up in Morgantown at one point. Just this year the Mountaineers added four-star cornerback Dreshun Miller (Kennesaw via Eastern Arizona CC), four-star linebacker Jared Bartlett (Suwanee), four-star cornerback Nicktroy Fortune (Roswell), three-star receiver Winston Wright (Pooler) and three-star running back Tony Mathis (Cedartown). Brown did his part to retain each player in the midst of Dana Holgorsen's departure.

5. Will Woodgrove TE Ben Castellano enhance Richmond's passing game?  

Coming off a disappointing 2018 that saw the Spiders go 4-7, Castellano will be a bright spot for head coach Russ Huesman's squad. The 3-star tight end totaled 18 Division I offers while leading Woodgrove High School to the Virginia State Class 4A Championship as a senior, securing the school’s first-ever title. 

6. Can the Good Counsel trio live up to the hype surrounding James Madison's 2019 class under first-year head coach Curt Cignetti? 

Three of nine JMU hard commits hail from Olney, Maryland and join a team that went 9-4 before losing to Colgate in the second round of the 2018 FCS playoffs. Jalen Green (OLB), Julio Ayamel (ILB) and most recently Latrele Palmer (RB) will bring teammate chemistry after a successful high school run in Olney. 

7. Can key members of Old Dominion's 2019 class improve areas on both sides of the ball that led to an eight-loss season for the first time in program history? 

Head coach Bobby Wilder made a slew of coaching changes following the team's second straight losing season. One area in need of improvement is red zone performance which starts with the man under center. JUCO commits Messiah deWeaver and Stone Smartt, freshman Hayden Wolff, and Steven Williams will all compete for the starting QB slot. Another issue for the Monarchs in 2018 was the inability to stop the run. Elonte Jones (WDE) and Elijah Golston (OLB), both three-star signees in their own right, could help clean up last year's shortcomings come 2019. 

8. First-year William & Mary head coach Mike London prepares to solidify his 2019 class. 

With longtime head coach Jimmye Laycock calling it a career after 39 seasons, the Tribe secured London who returns to the CAA where he first led Richmond to the 2008 FCS national championship. London's eight-member incoming class features three offensive linemen, two defensive backs, a quarterback, wide receiver and defensive lineman. London is reportedly bringing his Howard defensive coordinator, Vincent Brown, with him to handle the same duties in Williamsburg. 

9. Hugh Freeze takes the reigns at Liberty University in Season No. 1. 

After a two-year coaching hiatus, Freeze's 2019 early signing class includes four defensive linemen, three wide receivers, two safeties, two defensive backs, kicker/punter and a quarterback. Three-star standouts C.J. Yarbrough (WR), Brayden Monday (WDE), Malik Caper (ILB) and Johnathan Bennett (PRO) headline the group. 

10. This isn't necessarily something to watch for February since he's already signed his National Letter of Intent, but DeMatha Catholic's DeMarco Hellams is Alabama bound to play for the legendary Nick Saban. 

The 2018 All-Met Offensive Player of the Year hauled in 78 receptions for well over 1,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. But don't forget: he's committed to play defensive back at Alabama. The two-way player had 12 interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns, and 91 tackles.