Diarrassouba leads Mountaineers: “When Soub speaks, everybody listens”


Andy McLean

App State senior defensive end and captain Elijah Diarrassouba is a leader on and off the field. He helped organize and took the lead on speaking at the protest against racial injustice the team led thru Boone Aug. 28.

Dan Davidson, Former Sports Editor

As the 2020 season gets going, uncertainty clouds all of college football. Conferences have canceled seasons, games will be played in empty stadiums, and many players have chosen to opt out of the season. Amid the madness, one constant remains in the App State locker room: the leadership of Elijah Diarrassouba. 

“Soub’s a leader, a natural born leader,” said Shemar Jean-Charles, senior cornerback and fellow team captain. “Yeah, we were all voted team captains, but at the end of the day, Soub’s been a captain even before he was voted a captain.”

One of six team captains, Diarrassouba is an integral part of the Mountaineer defense. The Greensboro native has appeared in 37 games and started on the defensive line since his sophomore year. 

“[Being a team captain] is a great feeling, especially being voted by your peers,” Diarrassouba said. “It shows they’re looking up to you.”

As a junior, he totaled 20 tackles on the season and 15 the year prior. His 1.5 sacks in 2019 helped the Mountaineers earn a top 25 national ranking in points allowed per game and overall sacks. 

Despite high rankings in many defensive statistics, Diarrassouba and his defensive line teammates are often outmatched physically.

“If you look on paper, we’re not the biggest guys, we’re not the tallest, we’re not the heaviest, and our competition every week is twice as big as us,” Diarrassouba said. “That brings us together because we all know that we’re the underdogs in most cases. When you come together like that, you’re unstoppable on the field.”

More than his stellar play, it’s Diarrassouba’s leadership that has impacted his teammates and contributed to the massive recent success of the program. Teammates look to him for answers and leadership and he consistently leads them. 

“When Soub speaks, everybody listens because he has such a powerful voice. He doesn’t talk in front of the team a lot, but when he does, it’s something important,” senior captain and d-lineman Demetrius Taylor said. “To hear him speak on certain things, everybody listens.”

Diarrassouba’s work ethic is evident not only in his production on the football field, but his success in the classroom. In 2019, he made the university’s academic honor roll. 

“That’s a guy you want to run a locker room. You know he’s going to be successful on and off the field,” Jean-Charles said. “He’s a special person and has a lot of success coming his way in the future.”

Just as he shows up for his team on the field, Diarrassouba leads them off of it. In the recent peaceful protest led by the Mountaineer football team, he took the lead on speaking at the event. 

“I don’t have hate toward nobody, because my mama always told me, ‘One day it’s going to get better if you stand for what you believe in, and don’t (ever) let nobody change that about you.’ That’s the reason why I do what I do. That’s it, it’s not political,” Diarrassouba said at the protest. 

To many who wear the Black and Gold, ‘Soub’s care and leadership have led him to become much more than a teammate. He’s a friend. 

“That’s been my best friend since freshman year and our relationship is going to go past here at Appalachian,” Jean-Charles said. “We’re going to be best friends until the day we’re both six feet under.”

As his senior season is set to kickoff against Charlotte, Diarrassouba is determined to start the year with a win and redeem the defensive performance in last year’s matchup with the 49ers. 

“We’re all in the same state, not too far from each other. It’s kind of like the battle of the state,” Diarrassouba said. “I consider it a pretty good rivalry. I look forward to it.”