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Reviews | How should EA Sports rate JMU football? | Sports

It’s been nine years since EA Sports shelved the beloved NCAA Football video game franchise. But with the NCAA allowing student-athletes to enjoy their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), the door has reopened for the game. The next installment of NCAA Football is slated for summer 2023 and will be the first to present JMU since NCAA Football 2011 – the last to include FCS schools. But how should EA Sports rate JMU players?

Latrele Palmer, running back: 71 overall

Redshirt junior running back Latrele Palmer had a breakout year in 2021. With graduate Percy Agyei-Obese missing all but four games due to injury, Palmer was JMU’s starting running back. The workhorse back has rushed for 947 yards — with at least 75 yards in six games — and three receiving touchdowns in 2021.

The Dukes’ offensive line struggled last year, but Palmer’s vision and power made up for it. His 6-foot, 220-pound frame lets him bounce off tackles and fight for big wins. Take his rushing touchdown against Montana in the FCS quarterfinals, during which he fended off several tackles and took a 50-yard run to the end zone.

Palmer’s main problem is his lack of speed. Palmer was able to break up huge runs in 2021 but was often chased by a defender. On the same touchdown against the Grizzlies, Palmer appeared to run out of gas at the 20-yard line and was nearly caught by a Montana defenseman.

Solomon Vanhorse, running back: 68 overall

Unlike Palmer, redshirt junior running back Solomon Vanhorse was quickest on the Dukes’ rushing offense. Vanhorse rushed for 117 yards and a rushing touchdown in 2021, but was mostly a weapon in passing and returning games.

Vanhorse had 338 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns in the fall, averaging more than 10 yards per reception. The scatback scorched Southeast Louisiana for a 63-yard touchdown in the FCS playoffs — the longest of his career. Vanhorse also had 469 yards and a touchdown on 17 punt returns in 2021. He led the CAA and ranked in the top 15 in the FCS in average kickoff return yards.

Among JMU running backs last season, Vanhorse had the lowest yards-per-carry average. Vanhorse’s longest run of the season was 13 yards – second shortest behind Lorenzo Bryant Jr.

Vanhorse lacked consistency in the backfield. As the third running back option in the 2021 spring season, Vanhorse made six carries for 100 yards and a touchdown – averaging 16.7 yards per carry. Last fall, Vanhorse’s average had dropped to 2.8 yards per carry even though he had 36 more carries than the previous year. The redshirt junior is a solid weapon for the Dukes but needs to prove he can consistently rush for big wins.

Reggie Brown, wide receiver: 65 overall

JMU’s receiving corps in 2021 included five different receivers who totaled at least 150 yards. Redshirt junior wide receiver Reggie Brown’s role grew last season, and he can expect an even bigger role in 2022.

While on the fourth string for most of the year, Brown made his reps count. He started wide twice for the Dukes and caught 14 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns – an average of 15 yards per reception.

It’s hard to hit Brown, given his lack of playing time and goals. He’s not a flashy big-play threat like redshirt senior Kris Thornton or former JMU wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr., but he’s still a solid third or fourth option.

Chris Chukwuneke, safety: 77 overall

JMU’s defense was No. 8 in FCS last season. Much of this success was due to the secondary dominance of the Dukes. Redshirt junior safety Chris Chukwuneke punished opposing offenses with his physical style of play.

Chukwuneke ranked fourth on the JMU list with 60 total tackles – including five tackles for loss. The redshirted junior has recorded one tackle in all 12 games he has played. He has recorded at least five tackles in six games in 2021 and set a career-high eight tackles in the FCS playoffs against Southeast Louisiana. Chukwuneke also ranked third in FCS with three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

Que Reid, security: 70 total

Chukwuneke’s counterpart, redshirted junior safety Que Reid, also posted impressive numbers in 2021. Reid had 36 tackles and registered a tackle in all but one game – JMU’s regular season finale win over Towson . He also intercepted two assists last season.

Reid appeared to be playing his best in the big games of the 2021 season. He recorded six tackles in the Dukes’ loss to Villanova and five tackles in the FCS quarterfinals against Montana. Reid is one of JMU’s few veterans in defense and will be tested at the FBS level.

Nick Kidwell, offensive lineman: 80 overall

The Dukes’ offensive line has been plagued by injuries with redshirt seniors JT Timming and Liam Fornadel, as well as redshirt rookie Tyler Stephens, dropping during the season. A bright spot on the O line was redshirt junior Nick Kidwell.

Kidwell started all 14 games for the Dukes at right tackle and helped them rank among the FCS’s top 20 offenses. With Kidwell blocking for redshirt senior quarterback Cole Johnson, JMU ranked No. 3 nationally in completion percentage and passing efficiency rating, fifth in scoring, 12th on third down and 14th in efficiency of the red zone. Kidwell advocated making an NFL roster, following in the footsteps of former Dukes and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive linemen Josh Wells and Aaron Stinne.

Jalen Green, defensive lineman: 67 overall

Redshirt junior defensive lineman Jalen Green played in a limited capacity last season as a backup to redshirt senior Isaac Ukwu and former Duke Mike Greene. Green appeared in 13 games, making 14 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. Like Cukwuneke and Reid, Green played some of his best playoff defense as he recorded a season-high three tackles against Southeast Louisiana in the FCS playoffs.

Green is another player who hasn’t seen much of the pitch but could be a key contributor next season. He will likely start alongside Ukwu on the D line next season. Green excels as a run stopper but hasn’t proven he can consistently pressure quarterbacks as he’s only recorded 2.5 sacks in two seasons.

Contact Logan Skinner at [email protected] For more football coverage, follow the Sports Office on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.