By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
AFTER struggling to earn playing time over the last two seasons with the James Madison Dukes, Rondre Knowles-Tener has decided to leave the programme.
Knowles-Tener was one of several players to announce their intentions to transfer this offseason after he did not appear in any games for the Dukes during his redshirt freshman season.
Coming out of high school, Knowles-Tener originally committed to the East Carolina Pirates but eventually chose to join the programme at James Madison.
He sat out his true freshman season last year as a redshirt but was expected to be an important factor in the Dukes' plans for its defensive frontline moving forward. The six-foot, one-inch, 295-pound defensive lineman is a former standout performer at Tabernacle Baptist Academy and also anchored the defensive line at Liberty Christian Academy (LCA) in Lynchburg, Virginia. Knowles-Tener drew interest from a number of elite division I programmes, including Wake Forest and East Carolina. He originally committed to East Carolina but said James Madison is a better fit. "They told me they want me to be an early contributor," he said in an interview with The News and Advance at the time of his signing. "So this year is going to be about working myself into shape."
On signing day last February, Dukes head coach Mike Houston outlined the impact he expected the Grand Bahamian native to have on the programme. "Rondre is a big, powerful, athletic defensive lineman," he said. "He has a ton of personality and will test the offensive line with his quickness."
However those expectations never materialised in the two seasons with the programme. James Madison ended the 2017 season ranked No. 2 in both the STATS FCS Top 25 and the FCS Coaches Poll after they lost their bid to repeat as champions in the FCs title game. According to the school's athletics website and advanced measurables, the Dukes were one of the top defences in the FCS.
JMU finished the season ranking in the top 10 nationally in 18 categories, which included leading the Football Championship Subdivision in scoring defence (11.1), interceptions (31), takeaways (44) and pass efficiency defence (83.12).
JMU tied its programme record for wins, ending the year at 14-1. The Dukes won their third straight Colonial Athletic Association championship, including a second straight outright crown. JMU advanced to the FCS playoffs for a programme-record 4th straight year and second straight national championship game. JMU built a 26-game win streak, which ranked second all-time in the history of the FCS.