Former Mountaineers prepare for NFL Draft


Aldo Sarabia

Redshirt senior defensive back Steven Jones Jr. extends to breakup a pass against Robert Morris Oct. 29, 2022.

Chance Chamberlain, Associate Sports Editor

As the NFL Draft approaches, former members of the 2022 Mountaineer football team prepare to take the next step by taking part in scouting opportunities.

Outside linebacker Nick Hampton and running back Cam Peoples took part in the Reese’s Senior Bowl Feb 4. The Senior Bowl is a prestigious game with numerous NFL coaches and scouts looking to find their next star player. 

Hampton stood out in one-on-one drills during the week of practice as he could find ways to get to the ball. Hampton totaled eight sacks and 39 tackles in his 2022 season for the Mountaineers. 

During the game, Peoples turned eyes on a 15-yard run where he broke multiple tackles, showing off his 6-foot-2 frame. Peoples also dropped two first-half passes as catching hasn’t been an element used by Peoples, with only 11 receptions in his collegiate career.  In nine games played in 2022, Peoples rushed for 605 yards and five touchdowns for the Black and Gold.

In the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Jan. 28, defensive back Steven Jones Jr. created a buzz amongst scouts with two interceptions and a strong week of practice. In the game, Jones Jr. had three tackles and broke up two passes. The physical 5-foot-10 defensive back tied for the Sun Belt lead in the regular season with 15 passes defended in 2022. 

Offensive lineman Cooper Hodges also participated in the Collegiate Bowl as he showed off his run blocking ability to set up a game-winning field goal. 

Quarterback Chase Brice and offensive lineman Anderson Hardy participated in the Hula Bowl Jan. 14. The Hula Bowl hosted 200 scouts, with representatives from the NFL, CFL, USFL, XFL and European League of Football. Brice was listed as the starting quarterback in the Hula Bowl. 

The Mountaineer single-season record holder for passing yards also participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl Feb. 2. In the Shrine Bowl, Brice only threw two passes, with one being an interception. The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons coaching staff coached both sides. Brice showed his accuracy in a precision passing drill, where he won the competition and had several highlight plays throughout practice. 

The next step for Peoples and Hampton is the Feb. 28 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis where all 32 NFL teams will be in attendance. For other former Mountaineers, App State’s Pro Day will be their opportunity to make an impression on NFL scouts and coaches to walk across the stage on draft day. 

The first round of the NFL Draft takes place April 27 in Kansas City, Missouri.