Josiah Blanton is making an early impact on the backline at James Madison

A Gatorade National Player of the Year nominee in his senior year, Josiah Blanton was a highly-rated recruit out of the Concorde Fire Development Academy. Discussing how he arrived at James Madison University, Blanton told BGN, “When I was in 8th grade I got a college invitation for a visit to see James Madison University. I noticed it was out of the way of the big southern schools I was closer too, but I decided to still check it out.”

“When I looked it up I thought the campus was the perfect place for me to be. I told myself that it would always be a top school for me until I choose. When I reached out to them my junior year, I was not too sure it would be one of my top schools but I wanted to keep that dream true. I was very excited when I got my offer to play and was very proud of myself.”

As a freshman, Blanton is already establishing himself as a great addition for the Dukes. He earned the opportunity to start in both of JMU’s first two matches this season. “To start the first two games of my collegiate career was a big step for me,” Josiah explained. “I am very happy and thankful to my coaches to have the trust in me and my play to start these games. This achievement was very close to me because of how much Coach Paul has achieved with teams in years before this season. Their high expectations of me gives me the confidence to believe that I can be the best teammate and play to my best ability.”

After seeing his first action in the NCAA, Blanton said, “Compared to high school, the play is much faster and physical. You are filled with talent all around you, including the teams you are up against.”

Josiah has adjusted well as he’s helped James Madison register two clean sheets in a draw vs. Liberty and a win over George Mason. “The clean sheets are for sure my favorite part of playing defense,” he said. “Whenever I step on the field with my team, I feel comfortable on the ball defensively and offensively. Our backline has a very close connection with each other.”

“Coming in as a freshman, they have taught me a lot and helped me feel a part of them. Playing with an experienced and older defense, I’ve learned a lot to make the game easier. It is such an important thing to be close with the backline on and off the field for it to operate correctly.”

The early success in 2021 has put the Dukes in a good position to compete for a CAA title, sitting 14th on the latest Top Drawer Soccer rankings. “I believe this year we will go all the way to the CAA tournament,” Blanton stated. “Playing with this team I’ve learned that on both sides of the field we are very talented. The keys to being a successful team would be to believe in each other and work harder and smarter than everybody.”

Are there any defenders that Blanton modeled his game after? He answered, “Growing up I played more in the midfield having Pogba and Thierry Henry being my favorite attacking and midfield players. Not until high school I moved to Left back and was not sure if I would like it. I began watching outside backs and center backs who had crazy passion for their position including Marcos Alonso, Sergio Ramos, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Benjamin Mendy.”

“Watching these players gave me a passion to win no matter where I am on the field. My play is very similar to Benjamin Mendy and Ashley Young. I’m similar to Benjamin Mendy because of his great use of his size and patience going 1v1 versus players. With Ashley Young, the ability to play on his weak foot’s side of the ball is similar to me. It is a very helpful tool to be able to play with both feet in game. I learned a lot from both of them.”

Josiah Blanton and JMU will get a chance to shut down another team and pick up another positive result on Sunday afternoon when they host Elon. On his music selection before a match, the talented freshman said, “I like to listen to calm and R&B music while on the ride to the field but once I step on the field my music changes to Rap.” The three must-play songs on his pre-match playlist this season are “Good Days” by SZA, “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight, and “Green Dot” by NBA Young Boy.

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.