Dukes Offensive Line Anchored in the Interior

Image Courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Jack Fitzpatrick

The offensive line is often not talked about, but often maligned in the sport of football. 

For JMU the last few years that hasn’t always been the case. Nick Kidwell was praised and a fan favorite, along with Liam Fornadel and others throughout the years. 

Which is a bit odd. 

This was an offensive line that was solid at protecting the quarterback but it struggled to create openings for the Dukes’ running backs on a consistent basis. In 2023, JMU had a running back go over 100 yards rushing just once. 

Overall the Dukes had the second worst rush attack in the Sun Belt in expected points added/play. The only team worse was Marshall. JMU also had a successful rush on just 36.6 percent of all rushing plays the 120th mark in the FBS. 

In 2023 JMU allowed pressure on 30.9 percent of dropbacks, 8th in the Sun Belt out of 15 teams. Out of that 30.9 percent, a sack was allowed on only four percent of dropbacks, which was the second best mark in the league. 

However, that may be more of a stat highlighting the ability of Jordan McCloud to move and evade the rush. 

Now, looking at 2024, there is potential for this group to take a solid step forward. After losing Kidwell, Tyler Stephens and Carter Miller to the transfer portal, the Dukes added some pieces that may be able to give the transfer running backs an ability to get a ground game going. 

Editor’s note: Thanks to Christopher William Jewelers for their advertising support this season.

The Retuning Line 

The Dukes offensive line retained a key player in Tyshawn Wyatt, the teams starting left tackle. After starting his career at left guard, the 6-4, 325 pound offensive lineman bounced out to left tackle in 2022 where he started all 11 contests. 

He began 2023 as the team’s starting left tackle, but had a season ending injury against ODU. From game one through seven with Wyatt on the field JMU averaged 153 yards on the ground (40 yards better than without Wyatt) and allowed just 1.4 sacks per contest (0.9 less than without Wyatt).  

Along with Wyatt, the Dukes hold down 67 percent of the interior offensive line. Carter Miller decided to transfer to ULM, but that leaves Tanner Morris and Cole Potts who have combined for 70 career starts. 

Other returners that appeared on the two-deep depth chart during the 2023 season include Josh Toner, who started every game at right tackle after Nick Kidwell went down with a season ending injury in game four of the season, Carter Sweazie, Ronald Altman, Aaron Gunn & Joseph Simmons. 

Editor’s note: Thanks to Christopher William Jewelers for their advertising support this season.

The Transfer Line

The key to a great offensive line in both the college and professional game is continuity. As it stands, the Dukes have a good bit of that. The right side of the line is essentially returning and Wyatt, in theory, will lock down the LT spot. 

However, there were some rough spots for this line a year ago. JMU head coach Bob Chesney has gone out and has picked up some needed depth and assumed competition at some spots through the transfer portal

Jesse Ramil comes in from Saint Francis where he appeared in 21 games. The 6-5, 295 offensive lineman started all of Saint Francis’ games a year ago and was part of an offensive line that produced an NEC-best 360.1 total yards of offense per game.

Quincy Jenkins is a three year starter at both guard and center during his time at Campbell. His 6-3, 320 frame and extensive experience may make him a prime candidate to compete with Sweazie at the guard spot. 

Watch our exclusive interview with Quincy Jenkins|

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Hunter McClain comes to JMU after starting his collegiate career at Virginia Tech. The 6-4, 293 pound lineman did not play for the Hokies during his first two seasons but had a good number of Power 5 offers coming out of Lord Botetourt High School. 

Patrick McMurtrie is an interesting piece for the JMU offensive line puzzle. McMurtrie is a 6-6, 294 pound lineman that was All-Patriot League second team in 2023 after missing the 2022 with a torn ACL and meniscus. He was also named All-Patriot League Second Team in 2021. He started 29 games at right tackle for Holy Cross and with the departure of Nick Kidwell he could slot in as the team’s Week 1 starting right tackle.  

Expected Starting Week 1 Offensive Line 

Left Tackle: Tyshawn Wyatt

Left Guard: Quincy Jenkins 

Center: Tanner Morris 

Right Guard: Cole Potts 

Right Tackle: Patrick McMurtrie 

Let us know your thoughts on how the JMU Offensive line will shake out this upcoming season in the comments! 

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