“It’s helped me become a better leader. I didn’t feel like I was on the outside looking in. I was on the inside making changes, so it helped me feel more involved.”
— Anthony Flory, App State Senior, Inside Linebackers
Moving forward from a 9-4 season in which Appalachian State claimed a second straight Sun Belt Conference title and a third consecutive bowl victory, the Mountaineers have adopted the #10Strong motto for 2018.
In the spring, head coach Scott Satterfield and assistant athletics director of athletic performance Mike Sirignano formed a leadership 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.”
Today’s position preview in the #10Strong Series leading up to the Sept. 1 opener at Penn State focuses on the inside linebackers, with senior Anthony Flory serving as that group’s representative on the panel.
After playing alongside four-year starter Eric Boggs in 2017, Flory is the new leader of the inside linebackers, who are coached by co-defensive coordinator Dale Jones.
“I just want to help my team win,” Flory said. “Whatever it takes, whatever I have to do, that’s pretty much it. I want to be more vocal this year and lead the younger linebackers on the right path.”
A preseason All-Sun Belt first-team selection, Flory had 87 tackles as a junior and was named the Defensive MVP of the Dollar General Bowl after setting up App State’s first touchdown with a 19-yard interception return.
With two inside linebackers in their 3-4 defensive scheme, the Mountaineers can pair Flory with junior Jordan Fehr, a talented player who has dealt with injuries during the first half of his college career.
As a true freshman, Fehr took the field for the first play of the 2016 season, blocking during a kickoff return against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium. His interception in the 2017 opener at Georgia set up a fourth-quarter score, and Fehr totaled 15 tackles while appearing in all 13 games.
Redshirt freshman D’Marco Jackson is a physically gifted linebacker who spent the 2017 season recovering from a high school injury, while Jones has a trio of true freshmen this year with the arrivals of Trey Cobb, Tyler Bird and Logan Doublin. Cobb and Bird, who had a long interception return during Monday’s practice, were both early enrollees.
More depth comes from a group of walk-ons that includes Blythe Hall (a special teams contributor in 2017), Matthew McQuinn, Jordan Mitchell and Keaton Forbes.
“We’re young, but we have guys that play hard, and that’s the key,” Jones said. “They’ll run to the football. They’ll make some mistakes at this point, but we’re really excited about them.”