Despite ‘College GameDay’ excitement, JMU remains focused

From left: James Carpenter, Jamree Kromah, and Cheese Sarratt walk to midfield for the coin...
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 12:57 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti makes it clear week in and week out the importance of eliminating noise and clutter.

JMU has managed to mute the distractions, whether it was the quarterback competition during preseason camp, the buzz leading up to the match at Virginia, or The University’s ongoing fight for a waiver granting full-bowl eligibility.

However, this week poses a distraction unlike any other the team’s conquered this season as JMU and the City of Harrisonburg welcome ESPN’s “College GameDay” to town.

“It’s awesome for our fans, the university, the athletic department, and the football program,” said Cignetti during his Tuesday night press conference. “It’s great exposure being on a national stage. [ESPN does] a tremendous job with the show. It’s good for the town of Harrisonburg. It’s an honor to be selected for that.”

With that honor comes responsibility. Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley is buzzing with excitement. Inside the JMU locker room, it’s business as usual.

“For a moment, I thought it was cool but to be honest, I’m really just focused on App State, practice, and film, and being the best I can every single day,” said JMU offensive lineman Josh Toner. “It’s great for the university and fans but it doesn’t mean much to the football team I’d say.”

Linebacker Jailin Walker echoed Toner’s comments.

“We still got a game at 2 p.m. against a competitive team,” says Walker. “We can’t really worry about that. We got to worry about what we can control and we got to handle business.”

Fortunately for JMU, handling business is an area the Dukes have excelled. JMU is focused on improving to 11-0 by defeating App State. With that, then they say they’ll enjoy the celebrations.

“I think it’ll be cool after it’s all set and done,” said Toner. “As of now, as a player on the team, we just got to stay focused and locked in. It’s great. It’s really cool but right now our mindset is we got to be focused on the game to do the best we can.”

Walker agrees.

“It’s once in a lifetime James Madison gets to experience College GameDay,” said Walker. “We can celebrate after the game but during the game, it’s straight business.”