BOONE, N.C. – Former App State football student-athlete and NFL veteran Doug Middleton is returning to Boone to join the App State athletics department, Director of Athletics Doug Gillin announced Wednesday.
Middleton has been named Special Assistant to the Athletics Department and will assist with a variety of projects including student-athlete development, fundraising, recruiting and mental health advocacy.
“We are thrilled to welcome Doug Middleton to our staff,” Gillin said. “With his experience as a student-athlete and a professional athlete in addition to many other talents, Doug will be an asset to App State Athletics in a variety of areas. He has been a tremendous ambassador for the Mountaineers over his years as an alum, and we’re excited for him to officially join the staff and help App State reach new levels of success.”
A first-team All-Sun Belt selection at safety in 2014, Middleton played six seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.
“Appalachian State was once a far sought-out dream that I had to be a student-athlete here. Years later after living out that dream and becoming a professional athlete I am very thankful for this opportunity to come back home in a different capacity in a full-circle moment,” Middleton said. “My experience here as a student-athlete and my time in the NFL will provide a different angle in our strategic conversations moving forward. I hope to serve as a resource and connection for all current and former student-athletes, members of the community and App State alumni. I look forward to being a part of the growth and maintaining, and exceeding, the success we have had to date.
“I would like to thank Doug Gillin and the rest of the staff for providing me with this opportunity to come back home and serve this community that means so much to me.”
Even more impactful than Middleton’s play on the field has been his advocacy for awareness and access to mental health resources. After losing his best friend A.J. Morrison to suicide in 2017, Middleton created the Dream the Impossible foundation with the goal of destigmatizing mental health and reversing suicide rates, particularly in the Black community, such that mental health is treated the same as physical health.
Middleton completed his undergraduate degree from App State in 2015 and earned his master’s degree in public administration from App State in 2018. This past July, Middleton, 29, was announced as the recipient of the 2022 Young Alumni Award, which honors individuals under 40 years of age for their exceptional service to the university and accomplishments in their careers.
A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Middleton is married to the former Caroline Rogers (’15), who was a four-year member of the App State softball team.