He was dubbed “that guy” by his teammates. He tied the single-game passing touchdown record in his debut at James Madison.
He played through injuries and helped make the Dukes’ transition to the FBS look seamless.
It would be pretty hard to tell that graduate quarterback Todd Centeio has only been at JMU for this season. But he has.
“I really feel great about [Centeio] and what he’s done here,” JMU coach Curt Cignetti said. “He’s flourished … he’s such a beautiful person. I wish we had him for four years, but we don’t.”
After playing at Temple and Colorado State, Centeio entered the transfer portal for the third time and decided to come to JMU for his sixth and final year of eligibility. It was pretty easy to adjust to another program, Centeio said, because he was so used to moving around and because of how welcoming the Dukes made him feel.
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“You kind of know how to maneuver, trying to earn your respect on the team and show people that you can respect them as well,” he said. “So, it kind of wasn’t a hard transition.”
Since the start of the season, Centeio has racked up weekly honors nearly every week JMU wins a game, including Manning Star honors, Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week, Maxwell Award Midseason Watch List and others.
He was the second-highest leading rusher at Colorado State in 2021 with 439 yards and two touchdowns, and has played in nearly 50 collegiate games.
Centeio still doesn’t believe any of this was even possible for him to achieve.
“I still don’t believe it now,” he said. “But I feel like that’s a good thing, because I can’t take the rat poison and get big headed, and it kind of keeps me grounded. But I really, truly, don’t believe any of the accolades and all that, like, I never would have ever thought.”
The quarterback is continuously humble, often giving more credit to his coaches and teammates over himself. He said it’s because he thrives off teamwork and has really enjoyed working with those who’ve helped him get where he is today.
So with the Dukes playing in their final game of the season against Coastal Carolina on Saturday, it all feels bittersweet to Centeio. Cignetti said he still wants his team to focus on the game first, but also recognizes the impact the senior class has made at JMU — Centeio included.
“This particular senior class, you’ve got guys that came here out of high school, won a lot of games, won a lot of championships,” Cignetti said. “You got guys that have broken records, high on rushing records, receiving touchdowns, you just got a lot of guys who have done special things here, but more importantly quality people.”
The Dukes agreed that if they defeat the Chanticleers on Saturday, they’ll anoint themselves the East Division champions statistically, even though they can’t represent the division in the championship game. They said they all wanted to finish their careers on a strong note — with a win at Bridgeforth Stadium on national TV on senior day.
And while Centeio’s journey was different than he may have originally planned, finishing collegiate football at JMU, with the seniors who welcomed him in so kindly, is exactly what he wants.
Even if his next steps aren’t on his mind just yet.
“My next step is to, you know, have good practice today, have good practice tomorrow, have a good walkthrough Friday, and have a great game on Saturday,” Centeio said. “And then from there, you know, figure out everything else.”