The first sign of college football’s return came Tuesday when players, coaches and media congregated at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for the 2019 CAA Media Day. While there hasn’t been a meaningful snap since spring, the players gave fans a glimpse of what the upcoming season might look like.
For JMU — who was represented by head coach Curt Cignetti, senior offensive lineman Mac Patrick and redshirt senior cornerback Rashad Robinson — it’s nearly time for an offseason filled with questions to come to an end. The expectations are high for the new coaching staff, but with 19 of 22 starters and having Robinson back from injury, there shouldn’t be any hiccups.
“It's a great feeling knowing that camp is less than two weeks away,” Patrick said. “This is the time of year where things start picking up and get exciting. I'm just ready to start.”
The day began with the conference revealing its preseason poll as well as the preseason All-Conference teams. JMU received 20 first-place votes and was picked to win the CAA for a third straight year. Towson and Maine, who were picked to finish second and third, respectively, also received first-place votes.
Junior offensive lineman Liam Fornadel was the only Duke named to the Offensive All-Conference team, but redshirt senior defensive lineman Ron’Dell Carter, redshirt senior linebacker Dimitri Holloway, senior safety Adam Smith and Robinson received defensive All-Conference honors. Redshirt junior D’Angelo Amos was tabbed preseason All-Conference Special Teams as a returner.
“I think we have a lot of other guys that are very capable and deserving,” Cignetti said. “It’ll all be determined on the field, and at the end of the year, they'll be on an All-Conference team … It's good to get individual recognition, but what I will tell you is this: When the team is successful, more and more guys get those kind of accolades. If we want to put a bunch of guys on the All-Conference team, put a bunch of guys on the All-American team, then let's all think alike and control the process and do the things we have to do to be the best we can be.”
Towson’s redshirt senior quarterback Tom Flacco won CAA Football Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Richmond senior defensive lineman Maurice Jackson took home the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
At last year’s Media Day, Robinson represented the Dukes as the 2018 Preseason Player of the Year. A season-ending foot injury before Week 1’s contest against North Carolina State caused him to redshirt, but the Richmond, Virginia, native is anxious to get back on the field.
“I’m excited, but I try not to get too excited,” Robinson said. “I haven't played since January 2018. It seems like forever, but I have great teammates in the locker room — that kept me up during that process and really stayed by my side. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to be able to come back again.”
Robinson was accompanied at the event by former head coach Mike Houston. When Houston departed for East Carolina, Cignetti was brought in, and the transition process began. It took the players a bit of time during spring practices to adjust to a new playbook, but Cignetti, Patrick and Robinson say the coaching change has gone smoothly.
Just 37 days separate JMU football and its season-opener at West Virginia, but only nine stand between the Dukes and the first practice of preseason camp. There are still questions to be answered, but until then, the players will prepare to be on the field for another season.
Contact Noah Ziegler at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.