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Courtesy: Appalachian State Athletics
Spring Update: Upshaw Return Bolsters Apps at RB
Courtesy: Appalachian State Sports Information
Release: Thursday 02/16/2017 (ET)
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BOONE, N.C. – Not often does a program lose its all-time leading rusher and return the conference offensive player of the year at the same position, but Appalachian State is doing just that this spring. The Mountaineers said goodbye to running back Marcus Cox’ 5,000-plus career rushing yards, but returning is junior Jalin Moore,  who took the Sun Belt’s top offensive honor following a season with 1,402 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016.

With spring practice a third of the way in the books, the Mountaineers are hoping to build around Moore and develop a reliable second back with the potential to explode, the way Moore blossomed in ’16.

Enter Terrance Upshaw.

Upshaw could be a difference maker in the backfield alongside Moore, giving the Apps’ another vaunted 1-2 punch, much like Cox-Moore last season. The senior averaged 5.3 yards per carry on almost 200 career carries in 2014 and 2015. In two seasons, Upshaw has 1,016 career yards in 22 games and seven touchdowns. He missed the 2016 season, but has been in high gear at practice this spring.

“Terrance is playing with a purpose,” App third-year running backs coach Stu Holt said earlier this week. “He has a great deal of motivation and it’s been great to see him back out here. He’s practicing hard and gives us another back that is a good combination of size and speed.”

There are plenty of reps for Upshaw and the younger backs to get this spring. Moore’s contact has been limited after almost 250 carries last season, he’s the established feature back heading into the fall. Upshaw has been the guy taking on the leadership role to help develop the youth behind him and depth at the position.

“He’s a proven player,’ Holt added of Upshaw. “He’s a guy that’s been around, played a lot of football here. He knows the offense and can help the young guys. He practices hard and finishes runs. Guys see how hard he runs. Even in practice, and they follow his lead. Certainly he provides leadership for us at the position, where we’re pretty young after Jalin.”

Junior Josh Boyd and redshirt freshman Marcus Williams Jr. are fighting for the third slot. Williams is trying to capitalize on some impressive days during bowl practices, while Boyd is battling back from injury.   

“Marcus (Williams Jr.) is just trying to learn the offense and we need to get him ready to play this spring. He’s really strong and has a great lower half and really good change of direction. What really impressed me was in the bowl practices, I don’t think he was brought down by the first guy who made contact once.”

Sophomore Darrynton Evans has split time mostly with wide receivers in a slot role and will be a major factor on special teams, coming off a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Camellia Bowl to spark the Apps to a win there, but he can always slip back into the backfield.  

“He’s our ace in the hole,” Holt said of Evans. “He’s a versatile player who brings a lot to the table. We’ll put him back there if we need to.”

App has used six of 16 spring practices and will practice on Friday at 4 p.m. then scrimmage heavily on Saturday. Spring practice is scheduled to be completed on March 4.

-App State- 

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