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Matt Binkowski

Linebacker Matt Binkowski wanted to graduate early from Battlefield High School and begin college in January at James Madison University. But the pandemic cancelled those plans.

Binkowski said JMU notified him in October it was unable to accept mid-year enrollees for football because of its rearranged schedule. The Dukes’ 2020 season was delayed until Feb. 20, when they begin an eight-game schedule at home against Morehead State.

“There was a situation with spring ball and bringing back seniors on scholarship,” Binkowski said.

Binkowski said he knew he might stay at Battlefield as JMU sorted through its logistics preparing for spring season.

“From the start, it was a possibility,” said Binkowski, who will sign with JMU Wednesday.

While he had hoped for a head start on his college career, Binkowski is excited about having the opportunity to play his senior season at Battlefield. The compressed six-game high school season begins with practice Feb. 4.

“I understand the circumstances,” Binkowski said of JMU’s decision. “I’d love to start that chapter, but I have some unfinished business to deal with here. It will be special.”

Two days before his birthday, Binkowski committed to JMU on May 22 after Dukes’ head coach Curt Cignetti offered him a scholarship that day.

Although Binkowski had 25 offers, the one he wanted most was from JMU.

The Dukes were the first school he visited as a recruit when JMU's former coaching staff invited him to attend a playoff game his sophomore season. The high-energy atmosphere left an impression.

The current coaches stayed in touch as both sides built a relationship.

Before JMU offered, Binkowski had narrowed his list down to 12 schools: Air Force, Army, Elon, Furman, Harvard, Liberty, Navy, Old Dominion, Richmond, Temple, Towson and William & Mary.

Binkowski said he liked JMU’s proximity to his home, the program’s winning tradition and the defensive coaching staff.

WOODS SIGNS WITH TOWSON

After committing over the summer to Louisiana Monroe, Gar-Field senior linebacker Mason Woods changed his college plans Wednesday by signing with Towson. Woods rethought his commitment to ULM after the school fired head coach Matt Viator Dec. 7 after five seasons. The Warhawks finished the season 0-10. 

Although ULM has yet to hire a new head coach, the program’s offer to Woods still stood. 

Woods, the 2019 Cardinal District Defensive Player of the Year, committed to ULM July 21. Louisiana-Monroe offered Woods July 17. Although he had offers from 11 other schools, Woods said at the time he wanted to make a decision as soon as possible. Woods said the coronavirus has accelerated recruits’ timetable in committing. Once the Warhawks offered, Woods accepted.

The Warhawks became interested in Woods after Gar-Field head coach Tony Keiling sent out tape. Louisiana-Monroe started following Woods in March.

 

David Fawcett is the sports editor for InsideNoVa.com. Reach him at dfawcett@insidenova.com

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