It’s easy for Prairie View A&M senior defensive tackle Jason Dumas to find that extra motivation, especially when those moments come when he feels like taking a break.

He thinks about his father, Melvin Dumas, and the sacrifices he made for his family in Vacherie, La.

“I can say, watching my father work, wake up every day at 3 a.m. and go to work to provide for the family…I’ve seen that and so it’s just like why would I take a day off?” Dumas recalled recently. “Every day I think about that, even when some days it gets rough. I still think about that.”

It has been the driving force behind transforming a player who was thought to be far too undersized as a 5-foot-10, 230-pound defensive tackle into one of the hardest defensive linemen to block in the SWAC. Dumas plays with a motor and passion that has made him a menace to many opposing quarterbacks and a disruptor of offensive backfields, in general.

As a sophomore in 2019, Dumas earned All-SWAC First-Team recognition as one of the Panthers’ most disruptive pass rushers with 53 total tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. The 2021 Preseason all-conference standout is on pace for an even more productive season with 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks seven games in.

In addition to being a standout on the football field, Dumas is a standout in the classroom where he is a Mechanical Engineering major on pace to graduate in the summer of 2022.

“You enjoy coaching a young man like Jason Dumas because not only does he do it on the field, but he does it in the classroom,” said PVAMU coach Eric Dooley. “This young man wants to make sure he is going to graduate. He is not just in a major, he is in engineering and doing a great job right now.

“Just the upbringing of this young man, when you meet his parents and the way his parents talk to him and everything he has in his character, you know you are going to get a guy who is never going to stop working.”

What’s making his accomplishments even more special this season is that his numbers are coming in the context of a winning season with the Panthers sitting atop the SWAC West Division at 6-1 overall and 5-0 in league play heading into Saturday’s showdown against Alabama State. It’s a position Dumas has always dreamed about but has never been in.

“Ever since I’ve been here, it’s always been 5-6, 6-5. So, this is very much new to me when you are pretty much in the driver’s seat and everybody is coming after you,” said Dumas, who is a member of Dooley’s initial recruiting class at Prairie View. “I’m use to always trying to chase teams, because when you’ve been 6-5, 5-6, you need that one to come through and that hasn’t happened for us.”

What’s changed has been the elevation of the Panthers’ defense this season. Dooley is known for his explosive offenses, but this year, the Panthers’ defense has become a major player in the team’s success. In addition to being ranked in the top three in the SWAC in scoring defense (23.0 points per game), rushing defense (122.9 yards per game) and passing defense (176.0 yards), the Panthers rank seventh in total defense (273.4 yards) nationally among FCS schools.

Much of the success can be attributed to the outstanding play of defensive players like safety Drake Cheatum and linebacker Tre’Shaud Smith along with defensive linemen Rashaud Powell, Troy James and Dumas.

The numbers and recognition are nice, but Dumas insists the Panthers are far from satisfied.

“If you just look at our record, you get complacent and you are not going to win a championship,” he said. “Champions don’t do that.

“It does feel great to have a winning record because you are not used to that. It’s something to be proud about because you feel like you are changing the culture around here, being what you want to be, which is a winning program. It feels great.”