It appears the Sun Belt Conference doesn't expect a leadership transition to trip up Appalachian State.
The Mountaineer were picked to win the conference championship, as well as the East Division, by the Sun Belt coaches poll that came out on Thursday.
On top of that, App State had 11 players earn spots on the preseason all-Sun Belt football teams, which were released later that day. That total tied Arkansas State for most the most in the conference.
Zac Thomas (quarterback), Darrynton Evans (running back), Corey Sutton (wide receiver), Noah Hannon (center) and Vic Johnson (left tackle) all appeared on the first-team offense. Jordan Fehr (inside linebacker), Akeem Davis-Gaither (outside linebacker) and Desmond Franklin (safety) represented on the top defensive unit.
Collin Reed (tight end), Josh Thomas (safety) and Evans (kick returner) garnered second-team nods.
Preseason offensive player of the year went to B.J. Smith, a running back at Troy. Preseason defensive player of the year went to Kindle Vildor, a cornerback at Georgia Southern.
Appalachian received seven of the 10 first-place votes for the division, finishing with 46 points was followed by Troy (39 points, one first-place vote) and Georgia Southern (35 points, two first-place votes). Coastal Carolina (17 points) and Georgia State (13 points) rounded out the division.
Louisiana led the way for the West Division, earning six of the 10 first-place votes and 46 points. Arkansas State (42 points) had three first-place votes. Those two were followed by UL Monroe (27 points), South Alabama (19 points) and Texas State (16 points). South Alabama received a first-place vote.
Last season, the first to have a Sun Belt Conference championship game, App State was picked to win its division, with Arkansas State winning the title. Instead, the Mountaineers hosted the championship game in Boone, beating Louisiana, 30-19.
But that was accomplished under Scott Satterfield, who coached App State for six season before taking over the Louisville program. The Mountaineers are now led by Eli Drinkwitz, the former offensive coordinator at N.C. State for three seasons.
App State will open the season with back-to-back home games, playing East Tennessee State on Aug. 31 and Charlotte on Sept. 7. The team opens Sun Belt play on Sept. 28 with a home game against Coastal Carolina.
The only team App State won't see in conference play is Arkansas State.