Five JMU Football Players Poised for Bigger Roles In 2024

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

We’re still about two months from the start of JMU football’s 2024 season, but it’s never too early to discuss the Dukes.

With roughly a month until fall camp begins, let’s take a look at five returning players (we didn’t include true freshmen or 2024 transfers on this list) poised to make bigger impacts in 2024 than they did in 2023.

Omarion Dollison, WR

JMUSN’s Jack Fitzpatrick is obsessed with Dollison’s potential, and he lands on our list due to his game-changing speed. Dollison only touched the ball three times in 2023, but all three of his touches went for either first downs or touchdowns, including a 54-yard touchdown reception against Utah State.

Dollison made nice plays at USF before transferring to JMU, catching 60 passes over three seasons and returning a punt for a touchdown. The ability to contribute in a meaningful capacity is evident, and the loss of Elijah Sarratt, Reggie Brown, and Phoenix Sproles means JMU has room for receivers to step up.

He probably won’t lead JMU in receptions or receiving yards, but Dollison could impact games even if he’s only receiving a few touches per game. Dollison’s speed figures to earn him snaps, and he showed in 2023 that even just a few snaps are enough for him to make an impact. With Solomon Vanhorse out of the picture, perhaps punt return duties could be in Dollison’s future.

Immanuel Bush, DT

This isn’t a bold pick, as Bush drew rave reviews throughout spring ball and played a meaningful role for the Dukes in 2023. After recording 17 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss last season, Bush looks primed to build upon those stats in 2024. His 6-foot-1-inch and 300-lb frame make him tough to move off his spot, and he should anchor the Dukes’ defensive front.

He’s a likely starter along the interior of the defensive line, and he’s entering Year 3 in the Sun Belt after joining JMU from Marshall. Look for Bush to go from a solid rotational defensive tackle to an All-Sun Belt performer in 2024.

Amar Thomas, DE

Thomas started JMU’s bowl game, the first start of his young career. With Jalen Green, Jamree Kromah, and Mikail Kamara gone, there’s ample opportunity for the defensive end to work his way into JMU’s rotation.

If Thomas earns snaps at defensive end, he should make an immediate impact, given the standouts across the rest of the defensive line. Guys like Bush, LIU transfer Eric O’Neill, and Syracuse transfer Terry Lockett are expected to compete at or near an All-Conference level, which should shift attention away from players like Thomas, Khairi Manns, and Lloyd Summerall on the edge.

Carter Sweazie, OL

Like Thomas, Sweazie earned his first career start in JMU’s bowl game against Air Force. Breaking into JMU’s offensive line rotation last fall was no easy accomplishment for an underclassmen, even with injuries and opt outs. It speaks to Sweazie’s talent that he earned a start as a redshirt freshman.

Another offseason under his belt should only help Sweazie develop more. He figures to be very much in the mix for a starting role, or at least a key rotational job. The offensive lineman could be a budding superstar.

Taylor Thompson, TE

Thompson, who is a better receiving tight end than most tight ends on the roster, caught 44 passes for 580 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 25 games with Charlotte. Last season, however, he didn’t catch a single pass for JMU and was pushed down the depth chart.

With a new offensive coaching staff and questions at wide receiver, Thompson has an opportunity to earn more playing time in 2024. At 6’3 and 240 lbs, Thompson presents a potential mismatch for linebackers and safeties over the middle of the field, if JMU’s new coaching staff elects to use him in the passing game more regularly.

Like Dollison, don’t expect Thompson to lead JMU in receiving, but he stands to make a larger impact in 2024 than 2023 in part due to a need for receivers and due to a new offensive coaching staff.

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