Cignetti Jersey

JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne presents Curt Cignetti with his jersey, welcoming him as the new head coach.

December 19 marked the first day of the early signing period for Division-I football recruits, and James Madison had eight high-school talents sign their Letters of Intent on the opening day. Over half of the 12 public verbal commits put their name on the dotted line, four defensive players and four offensive.

Defensive end Sean Johns, Gonzaga High School (D.C.)

Johns was the first of the 2019 class to officially sign, coming in at 7:19 a.m. At 6-foot-3-inches and 240 pounds, Johns received four FBS offers — Buffalo, Charlotte, Marshall and Kent State — as well as seven CAA programs — Albany, Delaware, JMU, New Hampshire, Richmond, Rhode Island and William & Mary.

Johns, who verbally committed to the Dukes last summer, was a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference selection with the Eagles and was an honorable mention All-Metro athlete, chosen by the Washington Post.

Offensive lineman Tanner Morris, Terry Sanford High School (N.C.)

The next signee falls on the opposite side of the trenches, as Morris signed his letter of intent at 7:44 a.m. The 288-pounder had offers from FBS programs like Army, Charlotte and Navy, as well as FCS programs like JMU, Elon, Gardner-Webb and North Carolina A&T.

Morris narrowed down his seven offers to JMU and Elon last year before verbally committing to the Dukes in June. New JMU head coach Curt Cignetti, the former head coach of Elon, now gets a recruit he lost out on at his new job. Morris, the only offensive lineman to commit in the 2019 class, was selected to the Carolinas’ Shrine Bowl after his senior campaign.

Linebacker Taurus Jones, IC Norcom High School (V.A.)

Jones had never verbally committed to the Dukes, but the 3A All-Region and Eastern District Defensive Player of the Year signed his Letter of Intent at 8:22 a.m. At 6-foot-1-inch and 210 pounds, Jones had 15 offers — six FBS and nine FCS — including offers from Group of Five programs in Appalachian State, Central Florida and Old Dominion.

Cornerback Dorian Davis, Shelby High School (N.C.)

The two-star corner, ranked by Rivals, was the first public commit of the 2019 class when he announced on Mother’s Day last May. Davis had offers from Army, Kent State, Liberty and Elon, and made visits to North Carolina and Wake Forest.

Previously, Davis told The Breeze that JMU was “an FCS school, but the facilities and everything is just like a Power Five school.” In his senior year, Davis — an All-State selection — wrapped in five interceptions en route to a state championship with Shelby. Davis will enroll early at James Madison and join the Dukes in spring ball next semester.

Running back Austin Douglas, Mt. Vernon High School (G.A.)

Douglas was the first of two running backs to commit on National Signing Day, and his became official at 10:59 a.m. Also a two-star recruit by Rivals, Douglas was an All-State selection and earned 12 scholarship offers and three from FBS programs in Arkansas State, Georgia State and Ohio.

Douglas verbally committed to the Dukes on Oct. 15, and finished his senior year with over 1,500 rushing yards and over 500 receiving yards. Cignetti made it known he wants his JMU team to win in the trenches, saying “We will lead the conference in rushing. We will be a tough, physical, nasty football team running the football.”

Safety Jordan White, West Orange High School (N.J.)

2019 FCS Playoffs - JMU

White verbally committed to JMU back in June, and officially signed his Letter of Intent at 11:40 a.m. Despite offers from the SEC’s Kentucky, the AAC’s Cincinnati and several CAA programs, the 6-foot, 195-pound safety chose the purple and gold.

In his last two seasons at West Orange, White racked up 143 tackles and six interceptions. During his senior year, he was awarded All-County and All-Conference honors.

Tight end Hunter Bullock, Gaffney High School (S.C.)

Bullock, who will enroll early at JMU to join in spring practice, signed his Letter of Intent at 11:45 a.m. A two-star talent listed at 6-foot-four-inches and 235-pounds, Bullock verbally committed to JMU in July.

The All-Region talent received 10 total offers, before narrowing it down to a final four of JMU, Army, Old Dominion and Wofford. Other offers include Charlotte, Georgia State and Georgia Southern.

Running back C.J. Jackson, Hermitage High School (V.A.)

The final signee of the day made it official at 2:58 p.m., becoming the second running back of the 2019 class after verbally committing on June 7. Jackson received plenty of FBS offers — including Air Force, Army, East Carolina, Navy and Purdue — and was also offered by in-conference foes Richmond and Towson.

At 5-foot-10-inches and 190 pounds, Jackson will have plenty of opportunities to make an impact in his early days with the Dukes — a team that just graduated three at the position.

Contact Blake Pace at breezesports@gmail.com. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.