Patrick Henry football standout Jayden Mines, a defensive back and versatile offensive weapon for the Patriots in the Class of 2022, announced over the weekend that he will stay in-state and play his college ball at James Madison.
Among Mines' top options were Army, Navy, Richmond, Villanova and William & Mary.
"JMU, as soon as they started recruiting me, I always had a place for JMU," Mines said. "When I was down there, the team and the coaching staff, they have the players' best interests, not just their (own) best interests. And it's kind of like a family, everybody is one brotherhood."
Dukes assistant Eddie Whitley, a former defensive back in the NFL and at Virginia Tech, got the ball rolling with Mines by inviting him to a camp early in the recruiting process. Mines talked to wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan as well, but at the time, JMU was still recruiting him as a DB.
Then Mines, who for a time listed himself as an athlete on Twitter, ended up playing receiver the entire camp. From that point on, JMU recruited him as a receiver, and Mines anticipates he'll play both in the slot and as an outside receiver.
Mines (6-0, 175) has featured in the slot, out wide and out of the backfield for Patrick Henry, which went undefeated in county-only play this past season before a 28-19 loss to Monacan in the Region 4B semifinal.
Also a highly accomplished student, Mines had Ivy League offers from Columbia, Dartmouth and Penn. He plans to study business or communications, and entertains the idea of entering banking and finance later on in life.
"School and education has always been something that's preached to me at home, from Day 1," Mines said.
"So I've always been pushed to do the advanced classes and things like that. As I went on, I just stayed on top of it. There was always a rule that if the school work wasn't done, then football was second. You've got to have the education first."
Mines said the pandemic has made the recruiting process more difficult, especially because many colleges have fifth or sixth-year players with remaining eligibility. So schools weren't taking as many players as they normally would out of high school classes.
Mines has been to Bridgeforth Stadium, but not for a Dukes game. He's excited to experience his future team's home field when it's full of screaming students and fans.
"I'm eager to get down there, I can't wait to witness the experience," he said. "The fanbase, it's going to be exciting."
Mines added that, growing up in Virginia, he's stayed in tune with the recent success of JMU football, and followed other local players that played in Harrisonburg.
"Seeing their success is just motivation to show me what I can do when I get there," he said.
"Truly, I just want everybody to know that JMU has one of the top dogs coming out of the 804."
Mines thanked all his coaches and teammates, his parents, little sister and grandmother for playing integral roles in helping him achieve the dream of playing at the next level.
After the shortened spring season, Mines is more than ready to get back on the field and begin his senior season for the Patriots, who figure to once again be among the top contenders in Region 4B.
"It's kind of a relief to be able to play my senior year and it's a full 10-game season with fans, the band, cheerleaders, everything will be back to normal and I'm very excited about that," he said.