Appalachian State athletics

BOONE — There were some key takeaways from Appalachian State football’s post-practice interviews on March 31.

Head coach Shawn Clark indicated that graduate transfer Chase Brice has the inside track on the starting quarterback position. Clark said that Brice has thrown some really good passes during the spring practice sessions and is fitting in well with the other players.

Clark reported that Watauga alum Anderson Castle has looked good in practice and should be “in the mix” come the fall. He noted that Castle has worked really hard on his conditioning, as well as now having had a chance to study the running back role in the Mountaineer offense.

Castle was a three-year starting quarterback for Watauga High School in head coach Ryan Habich’s QB option offense, and played defensive back. He was recruited by Appalachian State as a safety, but quickly was moved to outside linebacker his freshman year, then to running back early in the year after injuries to multiple players in the running back position.

Among the deepest positions on the App State roster looks to be wide receiver, which has four “super seniors” returning in Thomas Hennigan, Corey Sutton, Jalen Virgil and Malik Williams. Clark made special note of how much Virgil has improved in the off-season. Along with the four super seniors, the wide receiver room includes two true freshmen, two redshirt freshmen, six sophomores, two juniors and one graduate transfer.

Of the wide receivers, Clark said, “We have at least five starters, maybe more.”

In a separate interview, Brice said he is having fun and is really appreciative of the demands assistant coach Frank Ponce is making of him and how much he is learning, even after his earlier stints at Clemson and Duke. When asked to compare Power 5 vs. Group of 5 abilities, he suggested that there wasn’t that much difference, that maybe Group of 5 were marginally smaller, but he was really impressed with the overall team speed at App State. He said that the wide receivers group was among the best he had seen, as a whole, and that one of his primary jobs was to get the ball into their hands, in space, and allow them to make plays.

Also in a separate interview, Castle said that when he first got the call the week before the Campbell game last year to fill in as running back, he didn’t really have an opportunity to study blocking schemes in great detail so his focus was to “just run north and south.” He said he is now much more aware of where the gaps are supposed to be in the blocking schemes and much more comfortable in the position. He also stated that at approximately 203 pounds, he is pretty close to the weight he wants to be at the position without detracting from speed and quickness.

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