In the music industry, there is something known as the 'one-hit wonder' — the ultimate one-and-done show. James Madison's football program has no clue what a 'one-hit wonder' is.
While the Dukes lose a nucleus of seniors who have seen some crazy ups and downs in their four and sometimes five years with the program, there is a nice nucleus returning for JMU and the many players from the Dukes' recruiting classes of the past few years would be starting at many FCS schools. Those sophomores and redshirt freshmen are ready for a shot.
Players like rising seniors Rashad Robinson, Jimmy Moreland, Darrious Carter and Trai Sharp seem primed to once again be leaders. Marcus Marshall will also be back in the JMU backfield, and Riley Stapleton — whose star continues to soar each and every time he steps on the field in the postseason — will be a junior.
Add in that the young offensive line got a ton of experience because of injuries, and that rising junior QB Cole Johnson received valuable starting experience as a true freshman in 2016, and you see there is some serious talent to build on.
JMU receiver Riley Stapleton will be back in the lineup this fall (Jim Oxley/HERO Sports)[/credit]
Obviously this wasn't a topic on the tips of their tongues following the national championship loss, but after paying their respects for the seniors, the talk turned to a bounceback. This one hurt. And even though a 'fifth quarter' is against the law of fractions, there seemed to be the feeling that there will be a fifth quarter in 2018, as well as a sixth, seventh and eighth.
With NDSU's team cheering loudly in the locker room right behind him, Robinson gave HERO Sports his take.
"Right now I don't think about (2018), I really wanted to do this for our seniors," Robinson said. "We had a great senior class this year. They took me in as a freshman and a lot of them have been here five years. They had a tremendous year this year and they really led our secondary this year."
But he did offer a slight glimpse of what is next.
"But oh yeah, we're going to be right back at it," he continued. "We want to get back here. It'll be a harder offseason than ever."
Stapleton was visibly upset when we had the chance to catch up with him, but at the same time already had his eyes pointed forward. He admitted being ticked off.
"It absolutely is, the feeling that I have and the rest of the team has, it's indescribable," Stapleton told HERO Sports. "There's a fire lit in all of us. I know myself I thought about how the game could have gone differently, what I could have done differently, but also how I could be in this situation again next year and not ever to let that happen again. The future is bright. The seniors laid a foundation for us to live up to … good people, hard workers, loyal to the program. We're going to do everything we can to surpass that standard they set for us."