HARRISONBURG, Va. -- James Madison was well represented on the 2019 HERO Sports FCS Preseason All-America Team, as it had seven football student-athletes named Preseason All-Americans, the organization announced Thursday.
The Dukes led all FCS teams with seven Preseason All-America selections, which included three on the First Team. JMU’s First Team Preseason All-Americans included redshirt junior return specialist D’Angelo Amos, senior defensive lineman John Daka and redshirt senior cornerback Rashad Robinson. Redshirt senior defensive lineman Ron’Dell Carter earned a spot on the Second Team, and the trio of junior offensive lineman Liam Fornadel, redshirt senior linebacker Dimitri Holloway and redshirt senior wide receiver Riley Stapleton were Third Team honorees.
Amos was one of the nation’s top punt returners a year ago, as he led the country in punt-return touchdowns (3) and punt-return average (22.0). He was named Phil Steele FCS Special Teams Player of the Year and earned All-America honors from FCS ADA, STATS FCS, the Associated Press, HERO Sports and Phil Steele. The 2018 Touchdown Club of Richmond Division I Specialist of the Year started all 13 games at safety in addition to his return-specialist duties. Amos accrued 64 tackles (32 solo), to go with 1.5 for loss, a half sack, six breakups and two fumble recoveries.
Daka had a breakout junior season in 2018, as he went on to earn All-America laurels from both HERO Sports and Phil Steele though just being voted just a Third Team All-CAA selection. Daka tallied 47 tackles (22 solo), to go with 17.0 tackles for loss, 10.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, a safety and nine hurries. He was tied for first in the CAA in sacks and tied for second in tackles for loss. His sacks total was also top 25 nationally. Over the final five games, Daka registered 8.0 TFLs and 7.5 sacks.
Robinson missed the entirety of the 2018 season due to a foot injury, but was one of the nation’s most highly-touted corners after an All-American campaign in 2017. Robinson was named to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List and voted CAA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year a season ago. As a junior in 2017, Robinson was an All-American from the AFCA, AP, STATS FCS and HERO Sports after racking up a CAA-best seven interceptions, which ranked third in the FCS. He also ranked third in the CAA with 16 pass defenses.
Carter had a stellar junior year in his first season starting for the defensive line in 2018. A First Team All-CAA selection, he tallied 58 tackles (26 solo), to go with 13.0 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He ranked tied for seventh in the CAA in sacks and ninth in tackles for loss.
Fornadel was impactful in his first season as a starter at right tackle a season ago. A HERO Sports Sophomore All-American, he was voted Second Team All-CAA after being part of an offensive line that helped JMU rank second nationally in completion percentage (67.4%), 10th in first downs (279), 13th on third down (45.6%) and 18th in scoring (33.9).
Holloway was voted Second Team All-CAA last year after leading the Dukes with 127 tackles (46 solo), to go with 11.0 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a pair of breakups. He was tied for the league lead in total tackles and ranked second in the CAA and 20th in the FCS in stops per game (9.8). Holloway made double-digit tackles in six games and eight or more in 10 outings.
Stapleton was a Second Team All-CAA receiver in 2018 after leading the team with 62 receptions for 710 yards and seven touchdowns. He ranked third in the CAA in catches, fourth in receiving scores and seventh in receiving yards. Stapleton made five or more receptions in seven games and went over 65 yards in six outings.
JMU’s FCS-leading seven HERO Sports Preseason All-Americans marked one of eight teams to earn at least four honorees. South Dakota State and Weber State each had five, while Alcorn State, Jacksonville State, Montana, North Dakota State and Towson had four apiece.
The Colonial Athletic Association had 13 representatives, as in addition to JMU and Towson, Rhode and Villanova each had one selection.
JMU opens the 2019 season, presented by CarMax, on Saturday, August 31 at West Virginia. Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online, by calling 540-568-3853 or by visiting the JMU Athletics Ticket Office inside the Convocation Center.