With one signature, R.E. Lee senior Dae'Quan Scott's decision to spurn the FCS national champions became official.
Scott, who ran for 2,241 yards and scored 47 touchdowns last fall, originally gave a verbal commitment to Richmond in November. But he changed his mind after visiting James Madison last month, and on Wednesday signed his letter of intent to play for the Dukes.
Scott said his change of heart came from the offenses used by the two schools. He explained that the spread offense employed by JMU was more similar to the offense he ran at Lee, making it a better fit.
A quarterback at Lee, Scott says the Dukes recruited him as an athlete, and he's listed as a receiver on JMU's list of incoming recruits.
JMU head coach Mickey Matthews said Wednesday that Scott could get a chance to play quarterback in college.
"As we evaluated the Valley this year, we thought he not only was the best player. He was the best college prospect," Matthews said at his annual Signing Day press conference. "We're lucky to get him. We feel very fortunate to get him."
Scott was one of 18 players to join JMU on Wednesday.
Matthews called this year's class his best again at JMU, before joking that he uses that same description every February.
"The two big kids are great gets," says Matthews, referring to defensive ends Sean O'Neil and Jordan Stanton, who picked the Dukes over Maryland and Boston College.
The class also included linebacker Adrian Cavanaugh and tight end Jonathan Sharp, both listed as three-star recruits by the recruiting website Rivals.com.
The coach says JMU's football facilities, planned stadium expansion, and game day atmosphere are three of the school's key recruiting tools. Last season's success on the field is also an obvious recruiting advantage.
"Our name is getting out so much because of all the success," says Matthews. "The TV exposure is huge. The last four, five weeks of the season. All those weeks we were number one. We just got a lot of exposure, and there's no question that helps you recruit."
Matthews said there are open spots on the depth chart, particularly in the defensive backfield, that could potentially be filled by incoming freshmen.
Scott says his goal is to avoid redshirting.
"But I've got to go up there and work," Scott said Wednesday, "because nothing's going to be given to me. So I've got to work. I'm ready to go. I'm ready to go now."