After years of being the main focus of an offense, and the standout player, Daetrich Harrington had to learn a new role.
Like most college freshmen, Harrington had to adjust to the role of a reserve during his first season as part of the Appalachian State football team.
It is a role the former Alexander High all-state player fully understood and embraced.
But even as a top reserve, Harrington showed flashes of what made him a top recruit for the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision program.
“I felt that I did all right in my first year, it was sort of up and down,” Harrington said. “I just tried to keep my head up.”
Entering Saturday’s Dollar General Bowl game in Mobile, Ala., against Toledo, Harrington has rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns on 50 carries.
He has played in eight of the team’s 12 games. Saturday’s game will be televised live on ESPN as the Sun Belt Conference champions take on Toledo, which won the Mid-American Conference title.
Harrington said adjusting to the role of reserve was a huge adjustment.
“Everybody is much bigger and faster and stronger on this level,” he said. “It is a total different atmosphere than high school.”
Harrington had a career-high 118 yards rushing and a touchdown in the Mountaineers’ 63-14 win over Louisiana-Lafayette at Kidd Brewer Stadium to clinch the conference title.
“The main thing is that I prepared myself each week,” Harrington said. “I had to be ready when my name was called. I tried to give 100 percent in each game and practice. I thought this was my breakout game. I know I haven’t played a lot this season, but I wanted to show what I could do.”
Rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com coming out of high school, he rushed for 2,942 yards and 32 touchdowns during his two-year varsity career at Alexander.
The son of former Kentucky Wildcats running back, Dietrich Harrington, the younger Harrington chose the Mountaineers over Georgia Southern, Marshall and Western Kentucky.
Harrington and his teammates arrived in Mobile on Tuesday, and have been busy with practice and other bowl week activities.
This is the Mountaineers’ third straight bowl appearance in as many season in being eligible since transiting from the FCS to FBS level.
This game is rematch of last year's Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, where the Mountaineers defeated Toledo 31-28.
“I’m real excited about the opportunity to play in a bowl game,” Harrington said. “We have to stay positive and I think we can come out on top.”