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Dukes boast depth at running back

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 3:21 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - James Madison is loaded at the running back position.

The Dukes return four players who accounted for at least 400 total yards in 2019. Seniors Percy Agyei-Obese and Jawon Hamilton lead a group that features multiple running backs who played a big role for JMU last season. Agyei-Obese led the Dukes with 1,216 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in 2019 while Hamilton, who also serves a kick returner, accounted for 1,306 all-purpose yards while scoring six touchdowns.

“Whoever is on the field, everyone is on the sideline cheering them on and that’s motivation,” said Agyei-Obese. “When someone does good, someone else is going to do good. We feed off each other’s energy and that’s what makes our running back room go, honestly.”

Joining Agyei-Obese and Hamilton is redshirt sophomore Solomon Vanhorse who had a breakout campaign in 2019 when he accounted for 532 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns. Sophomore Latrele Palmer became a fan favorite during his true freshman season last year when he displayed a bruising running style and ability to help the Dukes close out games on the ground. He finished the 2019 season with 400 rushing yards and four touchdowns while averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Sophomore Austin Douglas also flashed ability as a freshman in 2019 and was a highly-touted recruit while freshman Kaelon Black has impressed the JMU coaching staff during fall practice.

“They all pull for one another," said JMU head coach Curt Cignetti. "We’ll try to get them a few of them on the field at the same time at times. But it has always worked out and I am confident it will work out again this year. It’s the one position you just can’t have enough of.”

The JMU running back group is deep and talented but also supportive of one another. The unit maintains a strong bond on and off the field, despite having to share playing time and carries.

“There’s no selfishness in the running back room," said Agyei-Obese. "Everyone is like whoever is in right now, everyone is cheering for them.”

JMU is currently holding fall practices in preparation for an eight-game spring season in 2021.

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