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Defensive Line Ready to Stand Strong in 2008

August 18, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Colin Dugan looks to lead the defensive line this year as one of three defensive team captains.

Colin Dugan looks to lead the defensive line this year as one of three defensive team captains.

Countdown to Kickoff Central

Coach's Corner Interview with Chad Wilt

For the second-straight season, LibertyFlames.com's Countdown to Kickoff coverage will feature the Coach's Corner, an in-depth position-by-position breakdown for each of the Flames' player units.

The coaching vignettes will include an article on the position, that position's preseason depth chart and an audio interview with the spotlighted unit's position coach. The 10-part series continues today with a look into Liberty's defensive line position, a group looking for a new leader following the graduation of four-year starter Steven Ackley.

Defensive Line
Steven Ackley carried the leadership torch for the Flames on the defensive line for almost his entire four-year career. He finished as the team's active leader with 181 career tackles and 30 career tackles for a loss.

The leadership role was officially bestowed upon nose guard Colin Dugan at the end of spring ball, when the senior was tabbed one of three defensive team captains.

Dugan is coming off a banner year, where he finished sixth on the team with a career-best 62 tackles, five tackles for a loss and two sacks, helping him earn Big South second-team all-conference honors.

"We came out of the spring with Colin Dugan being the heart and soul of this group," said head coach Danny Rocco. "He has played a lot of football for us. He has the absolute perfect body type for that position and he is strong. He is as hard working as anyone on our football team."

Standing alongside Dugan will be a pair of upperclassmen in Kevin Richard and Trey Jacobs at the defensive end positions. Last year, Richard finished the season with 28 tackles, including three sacks and a fumble recovery.

"Kevin started every game last year for us and has really put together an outstanding career," commented Rocco. "Because of his solid productivity, I put him on full scholarship at the end of the fall season to reward his strong efforts."

Jacobs is a junior, who finished last year with 13 tackles, including eight assisted stops. "Trey is a young guy who is coming on," stated Rocco. "He certainly has all the talent and has got the body, height, athleticism to be an outstanding player for us."

Soeren Wendland leads a trio of returning contenders for playing time on the line. The tall European recorded just one tackle in nine games last year, but really impressed the coaching staff during spring workouts. Wendland is followed by Jay Coady, a back-up to Dugan at nose guard, and Tim Smith.

The Flames also bolstered the position by picking up some players off the "free agent market" as Rocco likes to call it, with some transfers. Daryl Robertson joins the Flames from Virginia Tech, while Asa Chapman, who drew attention from ACC and BIG EAST programs, gives the Flames unheard of size at 6-5, 377 pounds.

"Asa is a big, big mountain of a man who will play nose guard," stated Rocco. "After spending a year at Fork Union Military Academy, he certainly had a number of offers from the likes of the ACC and the BIG EAST Conferences."

Defensive Line at a Glance
Front Runners
DE - Kevin Richard (R-Sr., 6-3, 280)
NG - Colin Dugan (Sr., 6-0, 290)
DE - Trey Jacobs (Jr., 6-3, 280)
Contenders
Jay Coady (NG) (R-Sr., 6-1, 275)
Tim Smith (R-So., 6-3, 265)
Soeren Wendland (R-So., 6-8, 300)
Up-and-Comers
Terry Adams (Jr., 6-3, 280)
Asa Chapman (Fr., 6-5, 377)
Stan Herring (Fr., 6-4, 275)
Ryan Jackson (Fr., 6-3, 280)
Rick Personna (R-Jr., 6-2, 230)
Daryl Robertson (Fr., 6-3, 285)
Greg Schuster (Fr., 6-2, 275)

To catch previous installments of the Coach's Corner or to take a look at future position segments, below is a complete Coach's Corner training camp schedule:

Links to Previous Installments
Coach's Corner Preview (Aug. 1)
Coach's Corner No. 1 – Defensive Backs (Aug. 2)
Coach's Corner No. 2 – Offensive Line (Aug. 5)
Coach's Corner No. 3 – Tight Ends and Fullbacks (Aug. 6)
Coach's Corner No. 4 – Linebackers (Aug. 10)
Coach's Corner No. 5 – Wide Receivers (Aug. 13)

Schedule of Future Features
Coach's Corner No. 7 – Special Teams (Aug. 20)
Coach's Corner No. 8 – Defensive Coordinator (Aug. 23)
Coach's Corner No. 9 – Running Backs (Aug. 24)
Coach's Corner No. 10 – Quarterbacks (Aug. 26)

Over the next few days, Countdown to Kickoff is going to focus on the Flames' special teams unit, a group which has been a game-changer for Liberty over the last few seasons. Tomorrow, the web site catches up with Rocco, getting the head coach's insight into how the position is taking shape for the 2008 season.