James Madison QB Birdsong adjusts to starting job

James Madison's quarterback position is still steadying itself while the Dukes go through spring practice under veteran coach Mickey Matthews.

Matthews considers sophomore Michael Birdsong a potential star in the making after he impressed as a true freshman last season, including two starts.

Starter Justin Thorpe has been granted a sixth season of eligibility this year after he missed two seasons due to serious injuries, but he left the Dukes program during the offseason.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Birdsong is expected to the starter this season, although he is adjusting to a new offensive scheme under offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain.

"He just needs to not turn the ball over," Matthews said of Birdsong, who threw for 478 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 179 yards and one touchdown last season.

Birdsong has been backed in spring practice by redshirt senior Quintin Hunter, who hasn't played the position in three years. Matthews said JMU plans to add a transfer quarterback later this year.

JMU, which finished with a 7-4 record last year, including 5-3 in CAA Football, will host Central Connecticut State in its season opener on Aug. 31.