Appalachian State (8-4, 6-2 SoCon)
Recruiting Needs: Appalachian State comes into signing day 2012 needing to address running back and wide receiver on the offensive side of the football, while the defensive side of the ball sees the Apps needing to address the defensive line.
The Mountaineers have 15 strong verbal commitments and three players that have already signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) going into the day, and listed below are some notes of the top incoming talent for the 2012 class.
Brief Recap of 2011
Appalachian State saw plenty of change and turnover at the end of the 2011 season and have had to really adjust on the fly since a 34-12 loss to Maine brought an abrupt end to the campaign in the second round of the FCS playoffs. ASU has had six assistant coaches leave the program since the end of the season, but have made some important hires in a little over a month and look to be bringing in a solid class from the looks of things.
Appalachian State's 2011 season ended with an 8-4 record, bringing an end to what many believe to be an era in Boone, N.C. Since 2005, Appalachian State has won three national titles, six league titles and have posted a 79-19 overall record.
The 2011 season turned out to be a bit of a rebuilding campaign for Jerry Moore and company, as the Mountaineers were severely affected by graduation along its offensive line, losing three starters from a year ago. The offensive struggles showed throughout the season, with Appalachian struggling to score early in the season, dropping its season opener, 66-13, to eventual BCS Bowl participant Virginia Tech.
The 66 points surrendered by the Apps were the second most given up in the modern era, bested only by the 72 points the Mountaineers surrendered in the 1978 season.
In the fifth game against The Citadel, an injured DeAndre Presley could not go at quarterback for the Mountaineers, leaving the door open for sophomore Jamal Jackson (161-of-262 passing, 2,001 yds., 15 TDs, eight interceptions/89 rush attempts, 296 yds., 7 TDs, 3.3 YPC).
All Jackson would do was enter the lineup, complete his first 15 passes against the Bulldogs and lead the Mountaineers to their best offensive effort of the 2011 season, culminating in a 49-42 victory. Jackson led a memorable afternoon for the ASU offense, as the Apps rolled up 552 yards of total offense. The Atlanta, Ga. native connected on 21-of-27 passes for 234 yards and three TDs without throwing a pick.
The highlight of the Mountaineers' 2011 campaign was obviously the 24-17 win over top-ranked Georgia Southern on Oct. 29. It was another "Black Saturday" win for the Mountaineers, marking the first time the Apps had knocked off a nationally top-ranked foe since a 17-16 win over the Eagles at The Rock in 1999. Needing a victory in its regular-season finale against Elon, Appalachian State found itself trailing 21-0 on the road in the opening quarter.
However, the Black and Gold would match their greatest comeback in school history, matching last year's come-from-behind win at Chattanooga, to get a 28-24 win over the Phoenix. Leading 24-14 with only seconds remaining in the opening half, ASU playoff hopes were in as much danger as they had been in since Oct. 31, 2004, when the Apps dropped a wild 59-56 game at Chattanooga, essentially ending their playoff hopes in that particular campaign.
But the Mountaineers would show once again their championship pedigree established over the past six seasons, as All-America wide receiver Brian Quick hauled in his second scoring catch of the evening, making it 24-21 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
It would be the ASU defense that would turned the tide of the game early in the fourth quarter, as freshman defensive end Ronald Blair nailed Elon quarterback Thomas Wilson, and the ball was recovered at the Elon 30 by ASU LB Brandon Grier.
Just five plays later, the Mountaineers would produce what would prove to be the game-winning score, as Jackson connected with backup running back Steven Miller on a short five-yard pass with 11:14 remaining in the game. The ASU defense would make the score hold up, and the Mountaineers would find their way into the postseason for the seventh-straight season.
ASU drew CAA foe Maine as its second-round opponent, as the Mountaineers had done enough to garner a first-round bye in the 20-team FCS playoff field.
The Mountaineers were ousted from the playoffs in 2008 and '10 by CAA teams, as Richmond posted a 33-13 win over the Apps at The Rock in '08, while Villanova ended the Apps' bid for a fourth national crown last season with a 42-24 win at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Both of those losses had occurred a week later in the postseason, and the Mountaineers hadn't lost an opening game of the postseason since 2002, when the Apps dropped a 14-13 decision to Maine.
Those same Black Bears returned to the High Country looking to complete the same feat as they did nine years earlier, and though none of those players were still around in Black Bears uniforms to remember that win, veteran head coach Jack Cosgrove was, as he was in his 19th season in Orono. He brought perhaps his most talented team in his 19 seasons at the helm of the Maine football program, and it showed, as the Mountaineers never seemed to be competitive in the game even though they trailed by only a TD (13-6) at the break.
The Maine defense completely shut down the Mountaineers ground attack, outgaining the Apps, 216-3, en route to the 34-12 win. The three rushing yards marked the lowest rushing total since 2004, when the Mountaineers were held to minus-three rushing yards in a 40-35 regular-season loss at Northwestern State. The 22-point loss by ASU marked its worst postseason setback since a 35-10 defeat to Middle Tennessee State in 1992.
Despite the disappointing finish to the campaign, there were a couple of individual milestones that were established during the 2011 season for the Apps. In ASU's 58-6 win in the home opener against North Carolina A&T, Jerry Moore became just the 16th coach in Division I history to win 200 games at one institution.
That victory put him among some of the Division I elites to do it at one school, such as former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden (304 at FSU), former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno (408 at Penn State) and the late Eddie Robinson (408 wins at Grambling).
Brian Quick (71 receptions, 1,096 yds., 11 TDs, 15.4 YPR) would establish the other milestone this season for the Apps, as he would finish his standout career in the Black and Gold as the program's all-time leading wide receiver, surpassing former ASU great Rick Beasley (3,124 receiving yards, 1977-80). In fact, Quick finished his career as the school's all-time greatest pass-catcher, posting new school marks for career receptions (202), receiving yards (3,418) and TD catches (31).
Class Notes (Top Offensive Recruit)
Tysean Holloway (Asheville, N.C./Asheville HS): With the departure of Travaris Cadet, one of the biggest needs the Appalachian State coaching staff had to address heading into signing day 2012 was the running back position. In my opinion, Holloway is a huge pickup for Appalachian State, as the Apps steal Holloway right out from under the noses of Mark Speir and Western Carolina. Holloway right now will be rated as one of my top-rated running backs in the league from the 2012 class.
Rated as a 2-star recruit by rivals.com, Holloway was sensational during his prep career at Asheville High School. Holloway rushed for 4,844 yards and 77 TDs during his four years as a prep and will likely have a chance to challenge Steven Miller and redshirt freshmen Darius Smith and Rommel Andre for action in the ASU backfield this season. Not since Kevin Richardson has Appalachian State ran the ball effectively in-between the tackles.
At 6'1", 190, Holloway is a powerful runner and runs low to the ground. He will be a player that will come and will surprise from the start. Another positive for Holloway will be that he will be active in the program this spring, as he is already enrolled at ASU and will take part in spring practice in a few weeks.
Class Notes (Top Defensive Recruit)
John Law (Atlanta, GA/Grady High School): An interesting battle has ensued for the services of linebacker John Law, who's an outstanding athlete right in the backyard of Russ Huesman and the Chattanooga Mocs, just about 45 minutes down I-75 IN Atlanta, Ga. Law was all set to head to Chattanooga before opting out of his original decision and now has decided to attend league rival Appalachian State, citing the program's tradition and history.
ASU has some depth and talent returning at linebacker for the 2012 season, so Law would likely redshirt. Law is now a strong verbal commitment to Appalachian State
The 6'1", 225 lb.-linebacker will fit in nicely as a middle linebacker in ASU's 3-4 scheme. He doesn't test well in his 40 times, but has good "game speed," as is evident in his YouTube clips.
One of the biggest positives Law will bring to ASU is that he is fundamentally sound as a tackler, and he has great hands with the abilty to drop into coverage. He's an extremely physical player and brings many of the same attributes to the table that D.J. Smith brought to the ASU roster last season. He lists an impressive 29.0-inch vertical leap and a 4.74 time in the 40-yard dash.
Below is a list of ASU's verbal commits so far. Please check back tomorrow for more updates on Appalachian State's 2012 recruiting class. I will be updating ASU's class, as well as each of the other eight SoCon schools classes throughout the day as information becomes available.
Appalachian State's 2012 Verbal Commits and Signees Going into Signing Day 2012
*--Denotes player that has already signed National Letter of Intent
*RB Tysean Holloway (6'1", 187), Asheville, N.C.
OL Tyson Fernandez (6'3", 315), Fuquay-Varina, N.C. (strong verbal)
ATH Jaquil Capel (5'11", 180), West Montgomery (verbal)
OL Matt Privette (6'4", 275), Forest Hills, N.C. (strong verbal)
S/QB Paul Magloire (6'1", 205), New Berlin, N.Y. (strong verbal)
*RB Quartterrio Morgan (5'10", 181), Jonesboro, Ga.,/Western Kentucky
DL Dylan Turner (6'3", 250), Augusta, Ga./Air Force Academy
CB/WR Dante Blackmon (5'11", 190), Covington, Ga.
*OL Alex Coulthard (6'6", 320), Rockingham,N.C./University of North Carolina
DL/LB Greg Hall (6'3", 218), Bogart, Ga. (strong verbal)
LB Olawale Dada (6'0", 210), Columbus, Ga. (strong verbal)
TE Barrett Burns (6'4", 220), Woodstock, Ga. (strong verbal)
WR Malachi Jones (6'1", 182), Lawrenceville, Ga. (strong verbal)
CB Aaron Krah (5'11", 179), Durham, N.C. (verbal)
WR Alex Gray (6'3", 198), Suwanee, Ga. (verbal)
DB Kevin Walton (6'1", 180), Greensboro, N.C. (strong verbal)
LB Tashion Singleton (6'3", 215), West Mecklenburg, N.C. (strong verbal)
OL/DL Greg Milhouse (6'2", 251), Garner, N.C. (strong verbal)
DL Darian Small (6'2", 262), Hampton, Ga. (strong verbal)
LB John Law (5'11", 227), Atlanta, Ga. (strong verbal)