Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
August 8th isn’t normally an exciting day in the JMU sports world. There are usually a few storylines from football practice, but that’s about it. Students are still on vacation, and the JMU sports world tends to be quiet in early August. Well, August 8, 2019, wasn’t a normal day.
With the first NFL preseason action in full swing, former JMU defensive backs put on a clinic. Dean Marlowe, the veteran of the group, snagged an interception for the Bills. Raven Greene forced a fumble for the Packers that can only be described as a superhuman effort. And then there’s Jimmy Moreland. JMU’s all-time leader in interceptions did Jimmy Moreland things on Thursday night, sending JMU football Twitter circles into a frenzy.
They hype started when Jimmy Moreland put together an impressive set of plays at the goal line against the Cleveland Browns. First, Moreland leaped up and deflected a pass.
Not bad. A solid start to the youngster’s NFL career. It only got better from there. Moreland also made an impressive play on a slant route, preventing a possible touchdown.
Moreland followed that up with his best play of the series, forcing a fumble on an impressive goal-line collision.
As Moreland made plays for the Redskins, Dean Marlowe made a smart play for the Buffalo Bills. He read the eyes of second-year Colts quarterback Phillip Walker and reacted to grab a straightforward interception.
With both Marlowe and Moreland making big plays, Raven Greene didn’t want to be outdone. The safety for the Green Bay Packers showed off his impressive strength by stripping the ball from a running back while leaping through the air. He’s made great strides and is expected to make the Packers roster again this season.
The action continued later, as Ish Hyman and Jimmy Moreland went at it. Hyman, a former Duke who spent time in the AAF before signing with Cleveland, beat Moreland on a few nice routes before Jimmy forced him to fumble near the goal line.
Moreland finished the night with a team-leading six tackles to go with three pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Greene finished up with three tackles and a forced fumble. Marlowe secured two tackles to go with his INT.
In addition to the defensive backs, Hyman finished with four catches for 39 yards for Cleveland. He also lost a fumble when Moreland stripped him. Andrew Ankrah added a tackled in that game as well. Josh Wells (Jaguars) and Aaron Stinnie (Titans) both played Thursday night as well. Both players are expected to be in the mix to earn spots on their respective rosters, with Wells the more likely of the two to earn meaningful reps in 2019.
JMU football’s defensive backs have been dominant the past few seasons at the FCS level. That impressive play carried over to the game’s highest level on Thursday night.