Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
Bob Chesney is JMU’s new head football coach, the school announced Thursday.
With Chesney coming to Harrisonburg from Holy Cross, there’s an obvious series of questions coming from JMU fans: How does this impact the Dukes’ transfer portal outlook? Will they retain some Dukes currently in the portal? Can they sway any Holy Cross players to come to JMU?
I’m not going to speculate about current Holy Cross players coming to JMU, as that feels a little gross. I will, however, make note of a few standout Holy Cross players who have already entered the portal. Those players, in some cases, seem like realistic transfer targets for Chesney and JMU.
Matt Sluka, QB
Sluka is the biggest name of all the Holy Cross transfers, and he entered the portal prior to Chesney’s decision to leave. The standout quarterback was the 2023 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, and he’s been one of the best FCS quarterbacks for a few seasons.
In his Holy Cross career, Sluka has 5,916 passing yards and 59 touchdowns compared to just 15 interceptions. He’s also added a mind-blowing 3,583 rushing yards and 38 rushing touchdowns. He’s not the purest passer, but he’s an elite athlete who has improved as a passer in recent seasons. His running ability makes him a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Sluka has drawn interest from Power Five programs, and he might seek a lucrative NIL deal from a school other than JMU.
Jacob Dobbs, LB
Dobbs recorded an absurd 123 tackles in nine games this season, finishing with at least 10 tackles in every game he played. He also tallied 14 quarterback hurries and 12 tackles for loss.
JMU’s three best linebackers from 2023 are currently in the transfer portal, meaning Dobbs could fill a huge need for JMU in 2024. Dobbs announced his intention to enter the portal on social media on Nov. 20, and he shared that he’s considering entering the NFL Draft.
If Dobbs doesn’t turn professional, we’d expect Chesney to make a strong push to land him. A strong final season at JMU in 2024 could boost Dobbs’ draft stock, and he’d be immediately beloved by fans for his character and tenacious on-field tackling.
Eric Schon, OL
Schon entered the portal on Nov. 20 and wants to play his final college football season at a school with a good business masters program. JMU’s business school ain’t half bad!
The All-Patriot League player started at left guard for the Crusaders in 2023, and he’s made 24 consecutive starts for the program. He’s received offers from Coastal Carolina and Old Dominion, among others. He’d be a nice addition to the offensive line unit.
Terrence Spence, DB
The graduate transfer made a career-high 52 tackles in 2023, including three tackles for loss. He also recorded a career-high two interceptions.
Over his career, Spence has also blocked an impressive six punts. He’s a weapon on special teams, which is an area where Chesney’s teams often thrive.
With cornerback Chauncey Logan in the portal and the Dukes expected to graduate some contributors at safety, JMU figures to be in need of depth at defensive back. Spence could fill that role and earn time on the special teams unit.
He’s received offers from Arkansas State, Delaware, and Georgia State, among others. JMU offering would make a lot of sense.