One year after the Mountaineers beat Ohio in their first bowl game in program history — also the first win by a former FCS team in their first season of bowl eligibility — they're headed back to Montgomery, Ala., where they'll face another Ohio MAC program, Toledo, a roster loaded with NFL draft prospects.
The Rockets boast one of the best crops of potential 2017 draftees of any Group of Five team, with at least five players vying to be selected in April, led by a running back who burst onto the national scene two years ago in the GoDaddy Bowl.
|4||Kennan Gilchrist||LB||Appalachian State|
|6||Barrett Burns||TE||Appalachian State|
|7||Marcus Cox||RB||Appalachian State|
Ranked as a top-15 running back prospect by most scouting services, Toledo's all-purpose back Kareem Hunt is the highest-rated prospect in the Camellia Bowl.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder from nearby Willoughby, Ohio, topped 100 yards 20 times in his career, including a 200-yard effort against unbeaten Western Michigan in the the 2016 regular-season finale.
Possibly a second-day pick, the sure-handed Hunt will challenge Boise State's Jeremy McNichols to be the first Group of Five ball-carrier selected.
Teammates Michael Roberts and Treyvon Hester could flirt with early third-day draft slots, while Storm Norton and DeJuan Rogers want to hear their name called on Saturday afternoon or become high-priority UDFAs.
Meanwhile, App State's best hope for a second straight draftee — linebacker Ronald Blair in 2016 — is Blair's former compadre, linebacker Kennan Gilchrist. The modest-sized (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) outside linebacker had 80 tackles, including three sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss as one of the most disruptive linebackers in the Sun Belt.
He has terrific speed and quickness, above-average cover skills and might be appealing as a hybrid linebacker/safety similar to Deone Bucannon of the Arizona Cardinals.