JMU defensive end duo earns NFL opportunity

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- Former James Madison defensive ends Ron'Dell Carter and John Daka are preparing for their opportunity in the NFL.

Former James Madison defensive ends Ron'Dell Carter and John Daka are preparing for their opportunity in the NFL.

Carter and Daka both went undrafted during the 2020 NFL Draft but were quickly signed as free agents after the draft ended. Carter has signed with the Dallas Cowboys while Daka is joining the Baltimore Ravens.

"My phone started blowing up," said Carter. "Like this team, that team, this team that team and I was like 'Whoa!'. I just didn't really know how to handle it. So I called my agent and I let him deal with everything and he told me everyone that had made me offers and then I said looking at everything...I'd rather do Dallas."

Carter joins JMU quarterback Ben DiNucci with the Cowboys. DiNucci was drafted by Dallas in the 7th round. Carter spent his final three years of college football with JMU after transferring from Rutgers. He had a breakout senior season when he recorded 12 sacks and 27 tackles for loss en route to earning CAA Defensive Player of the Year honors and being named a Consensus First Team All-American.

Daka, meanwhile, put together an outstanding season as a senior in 2019. He racked up 28 tackles for loss and led the FCS with 16.5 sacks. Daka says he had an idea he would be joining the Ravens before the draft was even over.

"I knew they were very high on me so after like the 6th or 7th round, I had indication that I would rather just go to the Ravens...than go to a team that I am not really a fit for," said Daka, who's a native of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. "So I just feel like I'm a perfect fit for the Ravens. I did have a good amount of calls during and after the draft but I knew I was going to the Ravens probably once round seven started."

Aside from Carter, Daka, and DiNucci, two other JMU football players found homes in the NFL this past weekend. Wide receiver Brandon Polk signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Rams while tight end Dylan Stapleton joined the Houston Texans.