Touchdown Thomas

App State quarterback Zac Thomas scores a touchdown for the Mountaineers in the second quarter against Troy in a November 2018 game.

BOONE — Appalachian State’s Zac Thomas is one of 30 players on the watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s best college quarterback.

Thomas is one of nine juniors and eight Group of Five conference quarterbacks on the list. Earlier this week, he was named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is given to America’s College Player of the Year,

Thomas’ quarterback rating of 79.8 in 2018 ranks ninth nationally among returning FBS quarterbacks. The Sun Belt’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, he completed his first season as an App State starter with 2,039 passing yards, 504 rushing yards and a combined 31 touchdowns, 21 passing.

Thomas recently served as a counselor at the prestigious Manning Passing Academy, where he placed second in the passing competition.

Sixteen O’Brien Award semifinalists will be named on Nov. 13, and the 2019 season marks the 13th year that fans will be invited to participate in the voting process on VoteOBrien.org. Results from the Davey O’Brien fan vote will be combined with the ballots from the Davey O’Brien National Selection Committee.

Evans named to Maxwell Award watchlist, Davis-Gaither on Bednarik Award watchlist

Along with Thomas, running back Darrynton Evans made the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which is given to America’s College Player of the Year. On the other side of the ball, Akeem Davis-Gaither is on the watch list for the Bednarik Award that goes to the College Defensive Player of the Year.

App State is one of just 11 programs nationally with at least two players on the Maxwell Award watch list, and it’s the only Group of Five program with that distinction. Davis-Gaither is one of 25 linebackers on the Bednarik Award watch list, which includes two Sun Belt Conference defenders.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards will be announced Oct. 29.

Evans rushed for a league-leading 1,187 yards last season even though he didn’t become App State’s primary back until Game 5, and his nine touchdowns included a 100-yard kickoff return against Penn State. He averaged 6.6 yards per rush and totaled 1,764 all-purpose yards.

Davis-Gaither amassed 105 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries in 2018 for a defense that ranked fourth nationally in points allowed per game. He had the most tackles in the Sun Belt by a player from a bowl-eligible team, recorded three games with at least 14 tackles and had the eighth-most PBUs in the country among non-DBs.

Virgil, Fehr make national ‘Freaks List’

Speedy receiver Jalen Virgil has repeated as a top-15 pick on the national “Freaks List,” and he’s joined this year by Appalachian State linebacker Jordan Fehr.

Virgil is No. 15 and Fehr is No. 33 on The Athletic’s countdown of the nation’s 50 most-gifted athletes in college football. The annual list from writer Bruce Feldman aims to “showcase guys who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the type of rare physical abilities that wow even those folks who are used to observing gifted athletes every day.”

Virgil is the top-ranked Group of Five conference player on the list, and he ranks No. 2 among FBS receivers, behind just Auburn’s Anthony Schwartz. Fehr ranks No. 3 among FBS linebackers, behind only Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons and Penn State’s Micah Parsons.

Virgil and Fehr are also the only Sun Belt Conference players listed.

The 210-pound Virgil, who shared the No. 11 spot last year with App State running back Jalin Moore, makes the list again after catching 17 passes for 238 yards in 2018 and then finishing second with a time of 10.30 seconds in the 100 meters at the 2019 Sun Belt Outdoor Track & Field Championship.

Fehr, a first-team All-Sun Belt selection last season, recorded a team-high 5.5 sacks and amass 86 tackles for the nation’s fourth-ranked defense in 2018.

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