By Colby Gable
After sitting out of the 2017 season due to NCAA transfer guidelines, Appalachian State wide receiver Corey Sutton was forced to miss the first two games of the season this year due to a violation of team rules. Head coach Eli Drinkwitz has never officially commented very much past giving updates on Sutton’s eligibility status, but the suspension is suspected to be from an arrest for marijuana possession in June following a traffic stop.
The incident came after a team-leading season in passes caught at 44, receiving yards at 773, and ten touchdowns, providing vital offensive production during a season where App’s starting running back, Jalin Moore Jr., was injured and missed part of the season. Last Saturday however, Sutton returned as a Senior in Keenan Memorial Stadium versus UNC, and helped win a hard-fought game ending with 8 catches for 78 yards. Not only was Sutton able to make an impact with his own play on the field like catching a tough screen pass in the second quarter for a first down to set a big Darrynton Evans touchdown, his taller frame at 6’4 and quick speed shifts the focus of the defense in ways we haven’t seen yet this year, and allowed for other players like Thomas Hennigan and Malik Williams to be more involved in the passing game than we were accustomed to last season.
Although Appalachian still maintains a rather balanced offense, Darrynton Evans has been unstoppable so far this season, rushing for 411 yards and 7 touchdowns in only three games, three of those seven coming against UNC. While the running game has been staunchly established as a part of their design, the passing half of the offense has been, somewhat surprisingly, the lesser producing of the two, as quarterback Zac Thomas had only even attempted 24 passes going into the game against Carolina. But with the already instituted chemistry from Thomas, and as we saw last Saturday, an already above-average offensive unit may begin to recuperate the passing game similar to how it looked in 2018 with Sutton coming back as an added weapon, giving Appalachian some extended assistance the rest of the season.