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FIELD NOTES: Sims Impresses In Scrimmage

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James Madison wide receiver Josh Sims (83) warms up before Saturday's scrimmage
Greg Madia/DN-R

HARRISONBURG – For an unproven player, a strong performance in a scrimmage can make an impression on his teammates and coaches.

James Madison freshman receiver Josh Sims redshirted last year, but is in competition for a starting role this season. Through seven practices, he took some reps with the first-team offense and some with the second-team offense, but in Saturday’s scrimmage at Bridgeforth Stadium, Sims took a step forward for the Dukes’ offense.

While taking reps at inside receiver with the first-team unit, Sims recorded two catches on the opening drive from quarterback Ben DiNucci. Later on with that group, Sims hauled in a deep ball down the right sideline from quarterback Cole Johnson. DiNucci and Johnson split first-team reps.

“He was doing that in the spring, too,” junior receiver Riley Stapleton said of Sims. “Last year on the scout team when he was redshirting, he was making those plays also.

“But Josh has been really stepping up for us and I’m excited to see what he can do in the season for us.”

Also in mix for playing time in the slot are EJ Morgan and Jake Brown.

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- The defense largely took and remained in control, only allowing the offense to score one touchdown in the about hour-long scrimmage.

- The only touchdown came on a pass from Johnson to tight end Clayton Cheatham.

- Stapleton said he thought both quarterbacks threw well, “considering the circumstances.” Senior receiver David Eldridge, senior running back Trai Sharp, sophomore running back Percy Agyei-Obese and Brown were held out of the scrimmage due to some nagging injuries.

- Of DiNucci and Johnson, Stapleton said, “They had some adversity and I thought they handled it really well.”

- Defensively, cornerback Jimmy Moreland and safety Wayne Davis each had an interception. Moreland picked off DiNucci when DiNucci tried to throw downfield to Stapleton. Davis caught a ball in the end zone that was tipped into the air by cornerback Wesley McCormick. Quarterback Gage Moloney threw that pass.

- Cornerback Taurus Carroll probably made the best tackle of the day when he prevented running back Jawon Hamilton from escaping after it looked like Hamilton had turned the corner to get up the field and race ahead of the defense.

- Defensive coordinator Bob Trott was pleased with how his unit played during the scrimmage. He said, “It was right what we needed at this stage of training camp.”

- Defensive end John Daka disrupted the passing game throughout the day. He would have had two or three sacks if referees didn't blow the whistle to protect the quarterback.

- Phil Steele released his Preseason FCS All-American teams and All-Colonial Athletic Association squads on Friday.

- JMU players listed on Steele’s All-American teams are cornerback Rashad Robinson (1st team), Moreland (2nd team), offensive lineman Jahee Jackson (3rd team), punt returner D’Angelo Amos (3rd team), running back Marcus Marshall (4th team) and long snapper Daniel Caracciolo (4th team).

- Dukes on the All-CAA teams are Jackson (1st team) Robinson (1st team), Moreland (1st team), Amos (1st team), Caracciolo (1st team), defensive end Darrious Carter (1st team) and punter Harry O’Kelly (1st team). Marshall, offensive lineman Mac Patrick, offensive lineman Liam Fornadel and cornerback Curtis Oliver were second-team selections while Sharp, defensive lineman Ron’Dell Carter and linebacker Landan Word were third-team choices.