WR/TE position profile: Sutton, Hennigan anchor experienced receiving corps


Silas Albright, Reporter

The 2019 App State pass-catching group is one of the most dynamic units on the roster with its depth and speed. 

“It’s a brotherhood,” junior wide receiver Malik Williams said. “We know each other and we know what we have to do.” 

Led by junior wide receiver Corey Sutton, the Mountaineers return seven of quarterback Zac Thomas’ top eight receivers from last season. Sutton led the Mountaineers with 10 touchdowns, 773 receiving yards, 44 receptions and an average of 17.6 yards per reception last season.

 Sutton is a rare breed of receiver, combining above-average speed and great size with superb hands and route-running abilities. The 6-foot 3-inch, 200-pound Cornelius native makes for a very hard cover in the end zone, as well as in the open field.

Along with Sutton, junior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan is set for a big 2019 season. Hennigan started all 13 games in each of his first two seasons for the Mountaineers. Last season, he was second on the team with 29 receptions for 327 yards and one touchdown. In App State’s season opener against East Tennessee State on Aug. 31, Hennigan caught a career high seven passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. 

Look for the multi-faceted Hennigan to also see work as a punt or kick returner and possibly a defensive back in the 2019 season. Last year, he picked off a deep pass in the end zone against Troy. He also served as one of the team’s regular punt and kickoff returners, taking a punt 59 yards for a touchdown against Charlotte.

Junior wide receivers Jalen Virgil and Malik Williams are also legitimate threats to opposing secondaries. Virgil is lightning-quick speed is only improved by his role on App State’s track team as a sprinter. His personal record in the 100-meter dash is 10.29 seconds, which is the second best in school history. On the football field, Virgil racked up 238 yards on 17 catches in 2018. 

Williams is another speedy wideout that adds depth to App State’s offensive attack. Last year, he caught 23 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The former high school quarterback has also completed 3-5 passes for 65 yards in his two seasons. All three completions were for touchdowns. 

“We have really good experience,” wide receivers coach Pat Washington told appstatesports.com. “Those guys understand how to prepare, how to get themselves ready to play, and that’s the biggest thing right now.”

As for the tight end position, senior Collin Reed and sophomore Henry Pearson will likely have the biggest on-field contributions. Reed was a 2018 third team All-Sun Belt selection after catching 12 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Pearson finished 2018 with 160 yards and two touchdowns on 14 receptions. The tight end group will also be very important to App State’s blocking game. Junior Mike Evans, true freshman Ricky Kofoed and redshirt freshmen Trey Ross and Miller Gibbs add depth off the bench and round out the tight end group. 

“It’s been an honor to be able to lead these guys on and off the field,” Reed said on appstatesports.com. “We have great talent and a lot of guys in the room that can play.”