Ponds making most of opportunities

JMU's D'Angelo Ponds has thrived for the Dukes
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 11:41 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - All D’Angelo Ponds has done since stepping onto campus at James Madison is make plays.

In the road win against Virginia, the true freshman recovered Aiden Fisher’s blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown. In last week’s road win at Troy, Ponds had a couple crucial defensive plays.

The defensive back made an early impression during fall camp on Curt Cignetti. After becoming a key contributor on special teams to start the season, the JMU head coach felt Ponds earned his chance to see more playing time.

“He’s a real intelligent guy,” said Cignetti. “Real high character. Real strong work ethic, fast, and athletic.”

Originally a wide receiver in youth football, Ponds says he wanted a greater challenge. So he made the switch to the defensive side of the ball at a young age.

“I challenge myself everyday to be perfect,” said Ponds. “We’re on a island. You got to really trust your technique.”

When Ponds opened up with media members earlier this week, he gave another reason for why he prefers to play defense.

“Offense, you’re getting hit. Defense, you can hit people,” said Ponds.

Ponds’ hitting ability was on full display Saturday at Troy. In the fourth quarter, Troy had the ball at the JMU 40, facing second-and-8. The Trojans tried to setup a bubble screen but Ponds blew up the play behind the line of scrimmage, a big hit resulting in an incomplete pass.

“It was a great call by [JMU Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Bryant] Haines,” said Ponds. “We’d be in Cover 3 the whole time. I’m pretty sure the offensive coordinator thought we were in Cover 3 but we were in Cover 2. Nobody blocked me so I came in free.”

Cignetti says that defensive play speaks to Ponds’ potential.

“He does what he’s suppose to do which is what it’s all about. The little details,” said Cignetti. “Early in the game, he made a really nice play on the hash where he’s mid-pointing two vertical threats. That’s the first time I’ve seen one of our corners make that play in awhile.”

You can watch Ponds’ full media availability from earlier this week in the video below.

JMU defensive back D'Angelo Ponds discusses JMU's upcoming matchup against Utah State