QB competition underway in JMU spring practice

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- For the second straight season a quarterback competition is underway in spring practice for James Madison football.

"(The quarterback) is a distributor of the ball," said JMU first-year head coach Curt Cignetti. "He's gotta protect the football. He's an extension of the coach on the field."

"He's gotta understand your philosophy, what you are trying to get done. He's gotta be able to put the ball where it's gotta be."

Ben DiNucci, Cole Johnson, and Gage Moloney are battling for the starting job. The same three players competed for the #1 spot last season before DiNucci emerged as the starter prior to JMU's 2018 season opener at N.C. State.

DiNucci, a redshirt senior, started all 13 games for the Dukes in 2018, earning Third Team All-CAA honors in the process. The Pittsburgh transfer threw for 2,275 yards and 16 touchdowns while adding 433 rushing yards and a team-best nine rushing TDs last season. However, DiNucci struggled at times with turnovers. He threw 12 interceptions, including five in a second round playoff loss at Colgate.

Johnson, a redshirt junior, played in four games in 2018. He threw for 523 yards with three interceptions and added a rushing touchdown. He played in just four contests in order to retain of year of eligibility with the four-game redshirt rule.

Moloney, a redshirt sophomore, played in three games in 2018. He threw for 109 yards and a TD while appearing in JMU's playoff loss at Colgate.