Being the “Most Dangerous Deep Threat” in the Sun Belt isn’t an accolade that comes easily. However, Appalachian State wide receiver Corey Sutton has earned everything that has come his way so far. His path to the 2022 NFL Draft has coursed through the high schools of North Carolina, through Kansas State, and ultimately to Boone. Sutton’s spent time on the sideline, in the transfer portal, and on the medical table. Now, he’s ready to take the next step and has a message for the NFL team that selects him.
Appalachian State WR Corey Sutton is ready for the NFL Draft
“The thing that I want them to know is that I’m all-in,” Sutton tells me during a recent sit down with Pro Football Network. “I’m 100% locked in on this. It’s all about getting better. Whatever team gets me, I feel like they’re going to get a really mature, disciplined wide receiver and person. I’m going to come in and work, and the only goal at this point is to win a Super Bowl. I’ve been a part of winning teams my whole life, and I expect to win at the next level as well.”
There has been a lot of winning during Sutton’s football journey to the 2022 NFL Draft. There’s been a substantial amount of personal success too. The 6’3″, 205-pound pass catcher has left his mark on the Appalachian State football program. Sutton’s 90-yard touchdown against Charlotte in 2018 remains the longest touchdown in program history.
Despite playing for three seasons, Sutton’s name is etched across the Appalachian State record books. His 24 touchdowns are third in program history. Meanwhile, his 2,278 receiving yards are sixth-most for the program, despite having the eighth-most receptions. The point there, he’s produced more than his opportunity.
The imposing playmaker earned the moniker of “Most Dangerous Deep Threat” in the Sun Belt after snagging 23 catches of 30+ yards during his time at Appalachian State. Yet, for all his accolades, the most impressive thing about talking with Sutton is that he hasn’t rested on his success. Rather than bask in the reflective glow, he focuses on what he can do better. Ahead of the NFL Draft, he always wants to be better.
Striving to get better even in the midst of success
“There were a couple of times when we came up short,” Sutton reflects on what was a statistically successful final season for himself. “I use those as motivating factors. Like the Miami game. I felt like I could have put us in field-goal range to win the game.
“There’s little things like that I think of every day. A lot of winners say the losses hurt more than the wins, and I feel like that’s how I’ve been too. I think about how that 1% can change the whole season. That’s my thing.”
There’s a winner’s mentality in Sutton ahead of the NFL Draft. You can feel that desire to be great when you talk to him. Where some players would be thrilled with even half of his career accomplishments, the records, the all-Sun Belt recognition in all three of his seasons. However, while grateful for the standard he set at Appalachian State across the first season of his Mountaineers career, he wasn’t satisfied.
“I’ve had that vision in my eyes since like seventh grade, and I’ve worked towards that goal for a long time. I’ll never forget that. It was a pretty good year, but I ended up with second-team, so it wasn’t really something that I hung my hat on. It was something that I considered a stepping stone.”
A desire for success crafted in Charlotte, North Carolina
While North Carolina high school football may not attract the same level of national attention as the talent-rich states of Texas and Florida, playing his early football in the state helped forge a competitive nature and winning mentality in Sutton. Playing at Hough High before transferring to Mallard Creek, he got an early experience of adapting to different schemes, adding a layer of schematic versatility that continued in college.
The transfer to Mallard Creek embedded the knowledge of what it takes to succeed at the next level. Being a 14-1, state championship-winning team isn’t purely the product of having 20+ players who had DI talent levels. The work ethic that it takes to be great was instilled there, and it’s a work ethic that Sutton carries to this day.
“Going over to Mallard Creek, that work ethic was what stood out. Everyone had that winning mentality, and we expected to win every week. We’d do the extra little things. We’d wake up on Saturday and go lift and watch film. We were putting in so much extra work. Mallard Creek’s mindset was a lot different from a lot of high schools across the country.
“A lot of guys aren’t putting that type of work in. Guys would joke, saying, ‘What are they doing over there? What’s in the water at Mallard Creek?!’ I saw that the proof was in the pudding. It was basically like a college prep school. The stuff I did there helped me transition really well.”
Football runs through the Sutton family blood
Mallard Creek prepared Sutton for the college journey and, ultimately, his path to the 2022 NFL Draft. But the key to his football success can be traced even further back. All the way back to the Sutton family home.
Clarence Sutton was a standout safety at Appalachian State in the 90s, landing with the Chicago Bears in the NFL. His influence has been huge on his son.
“He’s been a big influence on my journey, especially early on because we used to wake up and go to the gym before school to work out. He’s really the person that molded me early on. I wasn’t that good. I started playing football really quite late, so he helped me with that transition, and I saw a lot of progression from like eighth grade and into high school.”
Even during the NFL Draft process, Clarence has provided Corey with tips about preparing for things like the Appalachian State Pro Day and readying him for the transition from college to the NFL.
Yet, theirs isn’t the only family relationship with ties to the game and particularly the App State program. Younger brother Coen was a freshman in Sutton’s final season with the Mountaineers.
“Me getting injured and having the COVID year allowed us to be on the same team. It was a great experience with him being able to watch hands-on and see how I carried myself and interacted on a day to day as one of the leading receivers. Teaching him and being able to be hands-on with him every day was a great experience for him and me.”
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