BOONE — The players’ black bracelets possess a message that calls for an unbreakable bond. Heading into the 2018 season, Appalachian State’s football team has a #10Strong mentality.
The Mountaineers held their preseason Media Day at Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday, and head coach Scott Satterfield explained the origin of the mantra, which represents 10 position groups coming together for the good of the team as a whole.
With only 12 seniors on the 2018 squad, those veterans and other returners will be counted on for leadership. In the spring, Satterfield and Assistant Athletics Director of Athletic Performance Mike Sirignano formed a panel that included one player from each of the 10 assigned position groups and had weekly discussions about the contents of a Jon Gordon book called “The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy.”
“It was a great time for us to share stories with each other about how far they’ve come as players and for them to take what they’ve learned throughout that week and apply it to their position,” Satterfield said. “They did that throughout the spring, throughout the summer, and we’ll continue the leadership study throughout the fall.
“Does it help you win or lose? Who really knows, but I know this — it will help these guys as they go through life to hopefully stay positive because life throws all kinds of adversity at all of us, particularly in football. One of the things it teaches you is how to face adversity and how to fight through it.”
The panel has a group text that includes senior Jalin Moore (running backs), senior Brad Absher (receivers), junior Victor Johnson (offensive line), senior Zeb Speir (quarterbacks), junior Collin Reed (tight ends), senior MyQuon Stout (defensive line), senior Anthony Flory (inside linebackers), junior Akeem Davis-Gaither (outside linebackers), junior Josh Thomas (secondary) and senior Elias McMurry (special teams).
Last year’s team had three- and four-year starters in seniors Taylor Lamb, Beau Nunn, Colby Gossett, Eric Boggs, A.J. Howard and Devan Stringer, so there is a lot of experience that has departed, and it will require a group effort to provide the desired leadership in 2018. There’s a solid foundation in place, especially with Moore and Stout returning after they were among the six team captains as juniors.
Stout’s vocal leadership helped motivate the Mountaineers as they surged to a 4-0 finish at the end of a 9-4 season. The personal growth of Moore, the two-time Sun Belt Conference rushing champion, and his hunger to improve reasons why he’s so respected in the locker room.
“If you want to take your game to the next level, it’s going to take that extra little bit of stuff,” Moore said. “If you just want to be good, mediocre, just follow the same footsteps.” App State returns 21 offensive and defensive players who started at least one game for the 2017 team that clinched a second straight Sun Belt title with a 63-14 win against Louisiana and improved to 3-0 in bowl games with a 34-0 shutout of Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl.
While there will be new starters at quarterback, on the right side of the offensive line and at linebacker, the Mountaineers are preparing for their Sept. 1 opener at No. 9 Penn State with a roster that features a healthy mix of battle-tested veterans and talented underclassmen. There’s plenty of time for new leaders to emerge, as well.
“We are a young football team heading into the fall,” Satterfield said, “but we do have a lot of talent, and we do have a lot of guys that are coming back that have played.”