Abi Nwabuoku-Okonji Leaves JMU Football

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

Defensive end Abi Nwabuoku-Okonji is no longer on the JMU football team, a team spokesperson told JMU Sports News. The spokesperson didn’t share a reason for Nwabuoku-Okonji’s departure.

When healthy, Nwabuoku-Okonji was a difference maker for the Dukes’ defense. He recorded 10.5 tackles for loss across the 2021 and 2022 seasons, and he was expected to play a key role in the defensive line rotation in 2023.

Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Bucknell in JMU’s 2023 season opener. He was listed on the team’s 2024 spring roster, but won’t suit up for the Dukes in the fall.

Defensive line outlook

With Nwabuoku-Okonji no longer on the team, it opens up playing time at the position. Amar Thomas figures to be a beneficiary at defensive end, as the redshirt sophomore has been waiting for increased playing time. He started at defensive end in JMU’s bowl game loss to Air Force, the first start of his college career.

Eric O’Neill, a transfer from Long Island, also figures to start at defensive end. Transfers Khairi Manns (Maine/Colorado) and Lloyd Summerall (Florida/USF) should factor into the rotation at defensive end.

Immanuel Bush and Terry Lockett (Syracuse transfer) are likely starters at defensive tackle. Youngstown State transfer Chris Fitzgerald should factor into the rotation along the interior of the defensive line.

Even with the loss of a potential contributor, JMU’s defensive line features plenty of depth entering the 2024 season.

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