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Mountaineers have their pick from a crop of newcomers at wide receiver

By Tommy Bowman
Winston-Salem Journal

Replacements are needed for two of the top receivers in Appalachian State history. The Mountaineers definitely have a large quantity of candidates, and through the early stages of preseason camp they believe quality is also there.

Andrew Peacock and Tony Washington have moved on and are in pursuit of NFL roster spots. That leaves a large and talented group of newcomers to fill a void.

Six freshmen and one junior transfer are in the mix to become the perhaps three to five players who will provide an immediate impact at receiver.

“They are young, but they are very talented,” receivers coach Justin Stepp said. “The best thing about it is that they’re going to push each other. And even the older guys we do have know they’ll have to step up their game –because these young guys are pretty good.

“Tony and Peacock will be hard to replace, not only what they did on the field but the veteran leadership they brought. But we have some freshmen that can really run and can actually do some things they couldn’t do. It’s a matter of teaching and getting them in the right spots and getting them to grasp the concepts.”

Juniors Malachi Jones and Simms McElfresh are the only returning receivers who have started multiple games for a Spread offense that often starts four receivers.

The new receivers are freshmen Mykelti Armstrong, Jaylan Barbour, Deltron Hopkins, Isaiah Lewis, Shaedon Meadors and Jordan Noil, and junior transfer Montez McGuire.

“We’re going to travel (with) at least eight receivers, so there’s plenty of opportunity,” Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield said. “There’s some big-time competition going on in that receiver room right now. It’s a young bunch, and whoever picks it up mentally will be the ones that get to travel.

“They’ve all got talent, but the ones who pick up to know where to line up, what routes to run, will be critical.”

Armstrong, Meadors, Noil and McGuire, a transfer from Georgia Military, all provide size with speed. Barbour, along with Meadors, are the highest-rated recruits. Lewis has been among the most impressive in the early stages of camp, and small Hopkins has elusive speed.

All have shown flashes of prime potential.

“We’re looking for the guys who can do it on a consistent basis,” Stepp said.

Quarterback Kam Bryant said of the new crop of receivers: “I think we have some guys that will make a big impact come August 30 and throughout the season. The coaches did a good job recruiting, I’ll tell you that much.”

Jones agreed. He’s one of few returning receivers with experience, along with McElfresh, versatile Bobo Beathard and Tacoi Sumler, a former Oregon player who has yet to be fully healthy in two seasons with the Mountaineers.

“There are a lot of new guys who will come in and really help us,” Jones said. “We’ll see how they do during camp, but I like what I’ve seen from this group. There is a lot of potential there. There’s no doubt that we will need them to help us out.”

Two others are potentially in the mix – sophomore Jaquil Capel, who sat out last season after transferring from Charlotte, and redshirt freshman Dante Jones – but the large group of rookies will supply much of the demand.

“There’s a lot of us,” Lewis said. “There’s great competition going on right now. I think all of us have speed. There’s a lot to learn, but we’re picking up quickly.”

Armstrong said: “We all knew coming in we would have an opportunity, because there are spots to fill. The competition is strong. It’s hard to single out any one or two right now. Everybody that’s out here is good.”

The Winston-Salem Journal is a news partner of the Observer. For more Appalachian State coverage go to http://www.journalnow.com/sports/asu/
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