His new teammates weren’t shy about inquiring what everyone in the locker room was wondering when D’Angelo Amos arrived at Virginia after starring for James Madison.
Amos spent four years and was an FCS All-American punt returner and safety with the Dukes before he transferred to play out his final season of eligibility for the Cavaliers in 2020.
“I remember when I first got there to UVa, they kept asking me, ‘Do you think y’all would’ve beat us?’” Amos said Thursday with a chuckle through the phone.
Both programs, and Amos for that matter, will finally get the chance to find out.
Earlier Thursday, UVa and JMU announced the two schools will meet on the gridiron on Sept. 9, 2023 at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville to mark the first encounter between the Hoos and the Dukes since 1983.
A source told The Daily Progress that UVa will pay JMU a guarantee of $ 550,000 for making the trek over the mountain.
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“It’ll definitely be a good game,” Amos said. “Everyone knows JMU is going to come to play and I know I always waited on the opportunity to play against Virginia Tech or UVa when I was at JMU because we always said, ‘We run Virginia,’ and the chance to play against either one of those teams would’ve helped prove that. So, I know those guys at JMU are looking forward to that, but I know UVa probably can’t wait to play them to see how that goes, too. “
Amos, who recently signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, said his fellow Cavaliers would always ask him whether or not he could score punt-return touchdowns against them like he did for the Dukes. He racked up five punt-return scores throughout his time with JMU.
He said he responded that he could, and ultimately Amos proved himself with the Cavaliers while becoming a starter in their secondary while tallying 47 tackles and two interceptions. He said the difference mostly was in the size of the players, because UVa has more prototypical looking and bigger athletes.
The dichotomy between the two football programs in recent years has existed because of the level of football played at each school. JMU was an FCS powerhouse, winning the national championship in 2016 and getting back to title game in 2017 and 2019. In that time, the Dukes knocked off FBS East Carolina and took other Power Five schools, NC State in 2018 and West Virginia in 2019 , to the brink with games that were in question until the final minutes.
The Cavaliers are longstanding members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and their success has fluctuated, but could always brag they played at the higher level of the sport during JMU’s rise to national prominence in the other subdivision. A most notably reached the Orange Bowl after winning the ACC Coastal Division in 2019.
But the bout in 2023 pits the two sides on even ground.
JMU, a former member of the Colonial Athletic Association, announced its departure from the league and FCS into the Sun Belt Conference this past fall. The Dukes will debut in their new conference this coming season and by the time they meet the Hoos, they should be at 85 scholarship players just like the rest of the FBS.
“It’s going to be a game to watch and it’ll answer a lot for JMU and UVa with who’s running the state of Virginia,” said Amos, who also noted recruits in the Commonwealth will be able to learn a lot from the game and whether they’re better suited to play in the Power Five with the Cavaliers or better off possibly earning playing time right away in the Group of Five with the Dukes.
Both JMU and UVa needed nonconference games for 2023.
The Cavaliers had lined up non-league contests for that season with past FBS Independents BYU and Liberty, which each joined conferences in the last round of realignment – BYU with the Big 12 and Liberty with Conference USA. That created some scheduling conflicts requiring the Cougars and the Flames to restructure their nonconference schedules including the cancellation of some previously announced games.
Also in 2023, UVa has dates scheduled with FCS William & Mary (Sept. 2) and a trip to Maryland on Sept. 16.
JMU is the third Sun Belt team to appear on the Hoos’ list of future schedules. UVa will host Old Dominion and Coastal Carolina this coming fall, host Coastal Carolina again in 2025 and make a visit to face the Chanticleers in 2024.
As for Amos, he said he won’t pick a side when JMU and UVa square off because each program did so much for his football career.
“I’ll be rooting more so for the guys on each team,” he said.