Top 10 returning players at App State are led by CB Steven Jones and EDGE Nick Hampton

The top 10 returning players at App State are headlined by CB Steven Jones Jr. and EDGE Nick Hampton on the defensive side.

The App State Mountaineers return a bevy of talent on the offensive side of the ball in 2022. With Chase Brice returning, as well as their top three running backs from a year ago and four of five starting offensive linemen, it’s safe to say this offense may lose very little in terms of firepower. Yet, their top returning players happen to fall on the defensive side of the ball as the school record holder for sacks in a season and one of college football‘s top cornerbacks headline the group.

For every conference’s top returning players: AACACCB1GBig 12Conference USA | IndependentsMACMountain WestPac-12SECSun Belt

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Top 10 returning players at App State

The countdown to the regular season continues here during Pro Football Network’s Top 10 Returning Players series. We’ve crossed the country to the Sun Belt and are firmly entrenching ourselves across the southeastern portion of the country with our look into each FBS team. Looking only at players returning to their same team from a season ago — we’ll deal with transfers later –, we’re counting down all the top 10 players returning to action on every team. Here are the top returners from App State.

10) Daetrich Harrington, RB

With 12 career rushing touchdowns and over 1,000 yards on the ground, Daetrich Harrington returns to the field yet again for the Mountaineers. He’ll add a terrific complementary piece to the two-headed monster outlined below. Harrington is a great downhill threat who has averaged well over 5.0 yards per carry in his career.

9) Anderson Hardy and Cooper Hodges, OT

The duo of Anderson Hardy and Cooper Hodges return to give the Mountaineers one of the better bookend tandems in the Group of Five. Hardy and Hodges combine to keep their quarterback clean more often than not and add plenty of value in the run game. Hardy is a mauler from the left while Hodges locks down the right. They’re just part of the dynamic returning four starters on the offensive line.

8) Damion Daley, G

Also returning to the starting offensive line lineup from a year ago is Damion Daley. A powerful left guard, Daley is at his best when he’s paving the way for the rushing attack. No slouch in pass protection either, Daley can do it all and anchors the App State offensive line that should be one of the more experienced units in the country.

7) Isaiah Helms, G

Finding his groove a year ago, Isaiah Helms was dominant from the right guard spot. Keeping clean pockets was the name of the game for him, but he was perhaps even better when he got moving in the run game. Coming across the formation brilliantly, Helms is a master of his craft with strength and nifty footwork.

6) Nate Noel, RB

Rushing for 1,126 yards a season ago, Nate Noel pairs as a great complement in the backfield for App State. Noel averaged 5.66 yards per carry as he showcased an ability to make tacklers miss in a phone booth. App State’s heavy zone rushing attack allows Noel to get the ball with room to work, and he uses his terrific footwork to navigate the traffic for all yardage available.

5) Camerun Peoples, RB

App State’s rushing touchdown leader from a season ago, Camerun Peoples is back once again to pair with Noel as one of the top running back duos in the country. Peoples averaged 5.58 yards per carry, ripping off multiple big gains at times with his ability to make defenders miss both in the open field and in tight spaces. If he’s not making defenders miss with his elusiveness, Peoples is no stranger to bowling defenders over for an extra few yards.

4) Chase Brice, QB

The single-season leader in passing yards at App State is back for one more season as Chase Brice will lead the Mountaineers’ offense once again. Brice threw for 3,337 yards a year ago, his first with the program. He’s shown that he can hit every level of the field and understands coverages better than most at the Group of Five level. Brice, a former Clemson and Duke quarterback, found a new home in Boone and has flourished with his ability to distribute the ball through his progressions very well.

3) Trey Cobb, LB

One of the better three-down linebackers in the country, Trey Cobb has started 26 straight games for the Mountaineers (34 in his career). He’s an incredibly reliable linebacker in the middle of the field for App State, as he does everything at a near-elite level. He’ll run the alley with force, wrapping up every ball carrier with terrific technique.

Cobb also patrols the middle of the field in underneath coverage extremely well. His ability to stymie opposing passing attacks in coverage is his bread and butter. He also knows what to do with the ball in his hands, as evidenced by his 100-yard pick-six against South Alabama in 2021.

2) Nick Hampton, EDGE

Crashing the edge with a vengeance, Nick Hampton led the way for App State last year with 11 sacks, setting a new school record. He’s back to display more of his rare blend of power and speed from his off-ball position. Hampton was one of just five players across the nation last season to register at least 10 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, and over 65 total tackles. His ability to push the pocket is second only to his ability to finish, as he has 19.5 career sacks in just three seasons.

1) Steven Jones Jr., CB

Finishing the season tied for fourth nationally with five interceptions, Steven Jones Jr. enters the 2022 season as one of the top cornerbacks in the country. Jones returned three of them for touchdowns and registered a team-high eight pass breakups. It’s safe to say that Jones knows a thing or two about sticky coverage as well as he does sticking his nose into run defense. He’s a stalwart defensive back with great athleticism and better range who rarely, if ever, gets beaten.

Honorable mention players returning to App State in 2022

  • Ronald Clarke, S
  • Christian Wells, WR
  • Jordon Earle, DT
  • Brendan Harrington, LB
  • Jalen McLeod, EDGE
  • Nick Ross, CB

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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