William and Mary took advantage of staff upheaval at rival James Madison and one of the better players the Tribe has produced to land three of its primary football recruiting targets on National Signing Day.
Jhalil Mosley, an athletic dual-threat quarterback from Charlottesville, de-committed from JMU and signed with the Tribe after the Dukes fired offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jeff Durden.
All-state offensive lineman Chris Durant from northern Virginia committed to W&M after receiving a phone call from JMU assistant Chris Malone, his primary recruiter, saying that he had been canned.
Landstown defensive back Keanu Reuben was influenced by Tribe All-American cornerback and Warwick High product B.W. Webb, with whom he spent time at the Tribe's annual summer football camp.
"B.W. is one of the most impressive people I've met," said Reuben, a 6-2, 185-pound safety and cornerback. "He told me a lot about the school and said if I went there, I'd be successful in life."
The Tribe signed 12 to full scholarships. Eight are from Virginia, three are offensive line prospects and five are projected to play various spots on defense.
"We favored the defensive line a little more last year," Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock said. "This year, we wanted to focus more on the offensive line. After that, it was more about filling spots across the board: tight end, linebacker, running back, quarterback, and so forth. I think it's a pretty balanced class."
Reuben chose the Tribe over JMU, Old Dominion and Richmond. Landstown coach Tommy Reamon said that he often had Reuben cover the opponent's best receiver, or play safety against spread and option teams.
"We tried to utilize his great ability and great speed," Reamon said. "A lot of people talk about 'recovery' with defensive backs these days, and his ability to recover and close on plays is as good as I've seen at this level."
Mosley, a two-sport star at Monticello High, committed to JMU last summer. But he said that he began to have second thoughts when Durden was let go along with Malone in December's staff shakeup that eventually brought in passing game guru Hal Mumme.
Mosley said that he and W&M's coaches stepped up contact. He said that JMU's scholarship offer still stood, but that he decided approximately 10 days ago to commit to W&M.
"I felt more comfortable with the coaches and the situation there," he said. "They do a lot of the same things on offense we do here."
Mosley, 6-foot and 185 pounds, was named first-team all-district as an athlete and second-team as quarterback. He passed for 4,364 yards and 48 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,648 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was rated the No. 66 player in the state by the Roanoke Times.
Durant was en route to W&M for his official visit in early December when he received the call from Malone.
"Right then, I decided if everything went well, I'd commit to William and Mary that weekend," said Durant, a first-team All-Met offensive lineman from Oakton High. "I got a good vibe from the guys there and I really liked the coaches and the school."
Durant will be joining former Oakton teammate C.J. Reimann, a close friend and a preferred walk-on from last year's recruiting class. Fellow signee Jonathan Dunn, a versatile running back from West Springfield, lives nearby.
Durant, 6-foot-4 and 282 pounds, played left tackle and anchored the offensive line for Oakton's Division 6 Northern Region champs. He turned 17 in December, and Oakton coach Jason Rowley said he has great potential.
"I think William and Mary got a steal," Rowley said. "I think he would have had a ton more offers if he had shown any interest in getting his name out there. He's not a combine guy and he pretty much narrowed it down to William and Mary and James Madison early on."
Durant figures to redshirt as a freshman and then compete for a number of offensive line positions. He played guard as a sophomore and junior before Rowley moved him to left tackle as a senior, to take advantage of his footwork and athletic ability.
Durant was almost relieved that his decision was made a bit easier by the staff shakeup at JMU. He said that he would have had a hard time separating the two schools had everything remained the same.
"I honestly wanted it be over," Durant said of the recruiting process. "Some guys like all the attention and everything that goes on with recruiting, but I'm happy that it's over and I can just concentrate on my senior year."
WILLIAM AND MARY SIGNEES
(Name, Pos., Ht., Wt., Hometown/High School)
Richie DiPietro II, DB, 5-11, 196, Olney, Md./Sherwood.
Jonathan Dunn, RB, 5-9, 192, Springfield, Va./West Springfield.
Chris Durant, OL, 6-4, 286, Oak Hill, Va./Oakton.
Jaiven Knight, TE, 6-3, 225, Durham, N.C./Hillside.
Connor Hilland, OL, 6-4, 287, Stafford, Va./Brooke Point.
Brandon Louth, LB, 6-2, 240, East Windsor, N.J./Peddie School.
Jhalil Mosley, QB, 6-0, 185, Keswick, Va./Monticello.
Zach Rhodes, OL, 6-6, 300, Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale.
Xavier Roscoe, LB/DE, 6-3, 218, Woodbridge, Va./Gar-Field.
Keanu Reuben, DB/WR, 6-1, 180, Virginia Beach, Va./Landstown.
Jesse Santiago, WR, 6-1, 190, Yorktown, Va./Grafton.
Aaron Swinton, CB, 5-9, 160, Lancaster, Pa./McCaskey.