Mountaineer Day gives fans first experience of Drinkwitz era

Brooks Maynard, Reporter

Fans got their first taste of what App State football will look like under new head coach Eliah Drinkwitz during an open scrimmage at Kidd Brewer Stadium on March 30.

A few hundred dedicated fans and students showed up on the brisk, cloud-covered morning to watch the scrimmage. Coaches didn’t split the team into two squads, but chose to have the offense face the defense, making adjustments as they saw fit. Players were usually switched out after every score or defensive stop.

“(I saw) continuity. Doing the same thing over and over again and getting better results,” Drinkwitz said. “Spring is all about fundamentals and technique, and I think our guys are getting more comfortable within our schemes.”

The scrimmage opened with a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Zac Thomas to junior wide receiver Malik Williams. The defense then settled down to make several stops in a row, facing every quarterback on the Mountaineers’ active roster.

Other big plays included a 75-yard interception return by redshirt freshman linebacker Nick Hampton, a 60-yard touchdown run by junior wide receiver Jalen Virgil and a long reception by redshirt freshman running back Camerun Peoples.

“Nick Hampton has really had a good spring,” Drinkwitz said. “He’s been a dominant force at the boundary bandit position.”

The biggest part of Mountaineer Day occurred off the field, as coaches announced their decision to award sophomore punter Clayton Howell a scholarship.

“Coach (Jerry) Moore talked to us yesterday and he said, ‘Your best friend can be work,’” Howell said. “I’ve worked all year, lifting weights, on the field, doing everything I can to be in this position.”

The Mountaineers will continue to work toward fall camp and their 2019 season opener on Aug. 31 at home against East Tennessee State. While there’s still much to learn, Peoples said he is confident the team will be ready to go.

“You’ve got to take it one day at a time,” Peoples said. “Every day is a learning process. We’re going to be ready by the time the season (starts).”