Eight is enough? App State leads Sun Belt in preseason all-conference selections by Athlon Sports

Eight is enough? App State leads Sun Belt in preseason all-conference selections by Athlon Sports
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SPECIAL REPORT TO BLOWING ROCK NEWS. May 31, 2019. BOONE, NC –Athlon Sports’ preseason All-Sun Belt football teams include a league-leading eight first-team selections from Appalachian State, which has 15 total selections.

Darrynton Evans (3) turns the corner during the 2018 season. Photographic image by Brad Batchelor for Blowing Rock News
With this 100-yard kickoff return, Darrynton Evans electrified the App State fans in “Appy Valley” early in the game at Penn State. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.

COVER IMAGE: QB Zac Thomas crosses the goal line against Louisiana during the 2018 season. Photographic image by Damon Anagnon for Blowing Rock News

A winner of three straight Sun Belt championships, App State will be led in 2019 by first-year head coach Eliah Drinkwitz. The Mountaineers’ first-team preseason selections are junior quarterback Zac Thomas, junior running back Darrynton Evans, junior receiver Corey Sutton, senior offensive tackle Victor Johnson and junior center Noah Hannon from the offense and senior linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, senior safety Josh Thomas and senior safety Desmond Franklin from the defense.

The second-team choices include senior tight end Collin Reed and senior linebacker Jordan Fehr. Evans (kick returner) and junior Thomas Hennigan (punt returner) are listed as third-team specialists, while the fourth team includes junior offensive guard Ryan Neuzil, junior running back Marcus Williams Jr. and junior defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor.

Zac Thomas is the reigning Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, Evans was the Sun Belt rushing champion during a 2018 season in which he was named MVP of the league’s inaugural championship game and Sutton is one of only three returning FBS receivers who had at least 10 touchdown receptions while averaging 17.5 yards per catch in 2018.

Johnson, Hannon and Neuzil were part of an offensive line that ranked in the top 25 nationally in both rushing yards per game (No. 14 at 240.4) and fewest sacks allowed (No. 20 at 18) for the fifth straight year in 2018. Reed, meanwhile, enters his senior year with nine career touchdown catches.

As linebackers, Davis-Gaither and Fehr were the No. 1 and No. 3 tacklers for a group that ranked No. 4 nationally in scoring defense and set a Sun Belt record by allowing only 20 defensive touchdowns. Josh Thomas and Franklin combined for eight interceptions last season while helping the Mountaineers tie for first place nationally by allowing just eight passing touchdowns as a team.

Evans and Hennigan both scored touchdowns as returners in 2018, and Williams has rushed for 1,061 yards in two seasons. In 25 career games, Taylor has amassed 6.5 sacks among his 9.5 tackles for loss.

Fans interested in purchasing 2019 football season tickets and joining the Yosef Club can do so online by clicking HERE, by calling 828-262-2079 or by visiting the App State Athletics ticket office, located at the Holmes Center.

About The Author

As Editor and Publisher of Blowing Rock News, David Rogers has chosen a second professional career instead of retirement. For more than 35 years, he served in the financial services industry, principally in institutional equity research. He grew up in the oilfields north of Bakersfield, California and was a high school English major and honors student. From an economically disadvantaged family background, he worked his way through college (on grounds crew and in dining hall, as well as advertising sales for college newspapers), attending Johnston College at the University of Redlands, Claremont McKenna College, and California State University, Bakersfield. Other jobs to pay for college included a Teamsters Union job in South Central Los Angeles, a roustabout in the central California oilfields, and moving sprinkler pipe and hoeing weeds in the cotton fields west of Bakersfield. Rogers' financial services industry career took him from Bakersfield to La Jolla and San Diego, then to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Newport Beach and Charlotte before arriving in the High Country in 2000 to take a volunteer position coaching the rugby team at Appalachian State University and write independent stock market research. He spent three years as a senior financial writer for a global financial PR firm with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Beijing, Tel Aviv, and Frankfort (Germany). Rogers is the author of "The 90% Solution: Higher Returns, Less Risk" (2006, John Wiley & Co., New York). He is married to wife Kim (Jenkins Realtors), and shares in the joy provided by her three grown children and five grandchildren.

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