HARRISONBURG, Va. -- After the graduation of running backs Cardon Johnson, Trai Sharp, and Marcus Marshall, James Madison will have a new-look backfield in 2019.
Junior running back Jawon Hamilton is expected to have a bigger impact for the James Madison football team in 2019.
The leading candidates to take over running back duties are junior Percy Agyei-Obese and redshirt junior Jawon Hamilton. Both RBs have been working with the first-string offense during preseason camp.
"It's definitely exciting," said Agyei-Obese. "It's something new.
Honestly, I am ready for this role."
Agyei-Obese and Hamilton both saw the field in limited action during the 2018 season. Agyei-Obese gained 146 total yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run against Robert Morris. Hamilton saw limited snaps on offense but served as JMU's primary kick returner last fall, returning a kick 93 yards for a touchdown against Richmond.
The two running backs could be in for big seasons. When he was introduced as the Dukes' head coach last December, Curt Cignetti said he wants JMU to lead the Colonial Athletic Association in rushing.
"The way we are operating right now, I feel like if we keep it up, we're going to have a very successful year," said Hamilton.
As a whole, the running back group is tasked with replacing the 1,653 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns gained by Johnson, Sharp, and Marshall last season.
Agyei-Obese and Hamilton are joined at the position by redshirt freshman Solomon Vanhorse, redshirt junior Eric Kirlew, and freshmen Austin Douglas, Latrele Palmer, and CJ Jackson.