JMU celebrates on the sidelines against Towson on Nov. 20. 

CAA football is changing — and changing rather quickly. According to a report from the NCAA transfer portal, 497 players have left their respective schools since Monday morning — 213 FCS players. 

As former New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell said, “[The Dukes] don’t rebuild down there. They reload.”

With so many CAA players entering the transfer portal — and the Sun Belt jump right around the corner — JMU has the opportunity to recruit experienced players and “reload” its roster. Here are some of the top CAA transfer-portal players that JMU has offered. 

Nolan Henderson, Delaware

Graduate quarterback Nolan Henderson, who announced his entering the portal following Delaware firing head coach Danny Rocco, was one of the first CAA players to make their announcement. The starter was injured and didn’t play most of this season, but he led the Blue Hens to the spring FCS Semifinals. 

Henderson has two years of eligibility left and received offers from JMU, Towson and Sam Houston, according to his Twitter account. He led the CAA and was ranked third in the FCS in completion percentage during his spring campaign and was an All-CAA first-team selection. 

Thyrick Pitts Jr., Delaware

Another Delaware member entering the transfer portal is graduate wide receiver Thyrick Pitts Jr. The graduate played in 10 games this season and has one year of eligibility. With 669 yards and seven touchdowns, Pitts Jr. has received offers from JMU and William & Mary, according to his Twitter account. Both offers were announced on his account within two hours of posting his transfer announcement. 

Jared Verse, Albany

Redshirt freshman defensive end Jared Verse announced he’s leaving Albany on Tuesday and has received multiple offers from FBS programs across the country — including West Virginia, San Diego State, Nebraska and JMU. He’ll have three years of eligibility remaining. 

The All-CAA Second Team defensive end had 10 tackles for loss and tied for second in the conference with four sacks throughout the 2021 season. His efforts earned him the CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year award and was announced a STATS Perform FCS Jerry Rice Award finalist for this season. 

What does this all mean for JMU?

The Dukes are an older roster. Yes, some of the many seniors honored against Towson still have eligibility left, but many mainstays are leaving the program after the season. With the Sun Belt move, JMU can increase the number of scholarships given to players next season and beyond. Knowing that, it’d make sense for head coach Curt Cignetti and his staff to take advantage of the experienced players in the transfer portal — particularly ones he’s played against. Regardless, the Dukes will want the ability to fully reload after graduating this season’s decorated class. 

Contact Madison Hricik at breezesports@gmail.com. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSprorts.