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Players to watch in Royal Rivalry | JMU takes on Old Dominion

Players to watch in Royal Rivalry | JMU takes on Old Dominion
Players to watch in Royal Rivalry | JMU takes on Old Dominion

Number 24 James Madison is 7-0 and will take on 4-3 Old Dominion on Saturday in the second meeting of the two since both became FBS schools when JMU joined the Sun Belt prior to last season.

The matchup, dubbed the Royal Rivalry, will be a chance for ODU to move up in the Sun Belt East, currently tied for second with Georgia State. JMU is not eligible to make the conference title game due to an antiquated NCAA rule on teams transitioning to FBS.

On both sides, there are players that are watching, who could be drafted in the next few years.

James Madison

SR. DL Jalen Green

Green had five sacks last week against Marshall and stands at 13.5 on the season, three off of JMU’s single-season school record. The 6-1 senior also has a pick-six to his credit this season.

Over 45 games played, Green has 18 sacks and 28.5 TFLs, with 18 of those coming this season.

Green can get in the backfield in a hurry and has forced two fumbles this season, but he also used his body to deflect two passes this season. Georgia Southern has done the best job of keeping Green out of the backfield this season, holding him to lows in sacks (1.5) and TFL (1.5). 

Against an ODU offensive line that has allowed a lot of sacks, Green has a good chance of getting to the school record.

RS So. RB Kaelon Black

Black is having a breakout season, already eclipsing his best season on the grind with 443 yards on 110 carries and a touchdown this season.

Black’s 17 catches have also tied his career high and his three touchdowns are the most in his career.

At 5-10, 210, Black has the body to run the ball at the next level and only has 221 carries so far in his collegiate career.

RS Sr. WR Reggie Brown

Brown is the most trusted receiver in the Dukes’ wR room and has broken out in a big way this season. Already over career highs in receptions and yards, how four touchdowns match the output from 2022.

With 26 catches and 549 yards this season, Brown averages 21.1 yards per catch for JMU.

At 6-1, 195, Brown has the body for the next level and his production so far this season proves he can do it on the field too.

Brown has had two games with more than 100 yards this season, 160 at Utah State and 126 last week at Marshall.

Old Dominion

Jr. S Tahj Ra-El

Ra-El is having a big season in the defensive backfield for the Monarchs with five passes deflected and has shown a great ability to get into the offensive backfield with 2.5 TFL this season and has 44 total tackles this season.

At 6-2, 195, Ra-El has the size to make big plays and has shown that he has the speed to possibly play at the next level.

At Marshall this season, Ra-El had his career high in tackles with 12, his third double-digit tackle game of the season.

Jr. RB Kadarius Calloway

Calloway has been a big key in the offensive backfield for ODU in his first season.

Calloway has three rushing scores, all from long range, and has gotten 41 rushes for 485 yards, an average of 11.2 yards per rush.

Calloway 6-0, 217, has only played in five of ODU’s seven games and has a receiving touchdown to go with his three on the ground.

Calloway can turn on the jets if he gets into open space. 

Jr. LB Jason Henderson

Henderson became ODU’s all-time leading tackler this season and led the nation last season he has done so again this season. His 108 tackles this season show his nose for the ball, but Henderson has also improved his ability to get into the backfield. After having 10 TFL last season, Henderson already has  13.5 this season and 2.5 sacks.

Henderson’s 32 total tackles in two and a half seasons show his potential at the next level. At 6-1, 227, Henderson has the size to play at the next level and is the best player at Old Dominion since former Giants third-rounder Oshane Ximines.

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