Flames Home > Football Home > News

Rocco Named Big South Coach of the Year; 14 Players Named To All-Conference Team

November 21, 2006
|  Lynchburg, Va.
|   RSS
|   Share

Danny Rocco has been named the 2006 Big South Coach of the Year.

Danny Rocco has been named the 2006 Big South Coach of the Year.

Behind the strength of the nation's best win improvement this year, Liberty University Head Football Coach Danny Rocco was named Big South Coach of the Year as announced today by the league, while 14 Liberty players were named to the all-conference teams.

Rocco helped resurrect the Flame's football program, guiding Liberty to a 6-5 record in his first year as head coach after the Flames finished the 2005 campaign with a 1-10 record. The five-game win improvement ties for the nation's best turnaround as the Flames join Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Bucknell and Robert Morris in accomplishing the dramatic turnabout.

Liberty also finished the conference season with a 2-2 record, which tied Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb for second place in the league. This marks the third time that Liberty has finished second in the Big South Conference since league play started in 2002.

The Flames' defense set Big South season records in scoring defense (15.6), fewest points allowed (172), total defense average (306.6), fewest touchdowns allowed (22) and most shutouts (3), as well as league records for most kickoff return touchdowns (3) and kickoff return average (25.52).

The Flames rank 14th nationally in scoring defense and 37th nationally in total defense. Rocco received 11 first-place votes and 27 points, finishing ahead of Coastal's David Bennett (seven first-place votes and 20 points) and Charleston Southern's Jay Mills (one first-place vote and eight points).

The Flames had 14 different players named to the Big South all-conference teams with four garnering first-team all-conference honors, while 10 players were named to the second-team all-conference squad.

Senior team captain Manny Rojas highlighted Liberty's first-team all-conference selection as the linebacker garnered first-team honors for the first time in his career despite finishing his career second in league standings with 348 career tackles. Joining Rojas on the first team was Stephen Sene (OL), Rashad Jennings (RB) and Wynton Jackson (RS).

The Flames had more second-team selections than any other team in the conference as Liberty grabbed 10 of the 28 second-team spots. Offensive selections for the Flames included: Zach Terrell (RB), Brandon Turner (WR), Chris Luck (TE), Eddie Pinigis (OL) and Jarrett Winfrey (OL). Defensive selections for Liberty included: Steve Ackley (DL), Jason Horn (DL), Stevie Ray Lloyd (LB), E.L. Estes (DB) and Ryan Greiser (DB).

The 14 all-conference selections marks a new height for the football program as Liberty's previous best was 10 honorees after the 2004 season.

Coastal Carolina quarterback Tyler Thigpen was named Big South Offensive Player of the Year and Gardner-Webb defensive end Brian Johnston was named Big South Defensive Player of the Year.

VMI slotback Tim Maypray was selected as Big South Rookie of the Year and Coastal Carolina kicker Josh Hoke was named Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Liberty's defensive back Ryan Greiser was also named to the Big South All-Academic team.

First-Team All-Conference
Offense
QB Tyler Thigpen, Sr., Coastal Carolina
RB Rashad Jennings, So., Liberty
RB Sean Mizzer, R-Sr., VMI
WR Maurice Price, Jr., Charleston Southern
WR Jerome Simpson, Jr., Coastal Carolina
WR Duvaughn Flagler, Jr., Gardner-Webb
TE Rodney Burgess, Sr., Coastal Carolina
OL Brad Poston, Sr., Coastal Carolina
OL Brian Kepple, Sr., Coastal Carolina
OL Demario Deese, So., Gardner-Webb
OL Stephen Sene, Sr., Liberty
OL Kris King, Sr., Gardner-Webb

Defense
DL Brian Johnston, Jr., Gardner-Webb
DL Sam Harper, Sr., Coastal Carolina
DL Dennis Justiniani, Jr., Charleston So.
DL Eric Hall, Sr., VMI
LB Jada Ross, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
LB Jamar Leath, Sr., Coastal Carolina
LB Manny Rojas, R-Sr., Liberty
LB Mario E. Brown, So., Gardner-Webb
DB Quinton Teal, Sr., Coastal Carolina
DB C.J. Hirschman, Jr., Charleston So.
DB Daniel Cooke, So., Gardner-Webb
DB Jamaal Walton, Sr., VMI

Special Teams
PK Hunter Smith, Sr., Gardner-Webb
P Michael Hanna, So., Gardner-Webb
LS James Coble, Sr., Coastal Carolina
RS Wynton Jackson, Jr., Liberty

Second-Team All-Conference
Offense
QB Collin Drafts, Sr., Charleston Southern
RB Zach Terrell, So., Liberty
RB Aundres Perkins, Sr., Coastal Carolina
WR Austin Gaines, Sr., Gardner-Webb
WR Kory Alston, Sr., Gardner-Webb
WR Brandon Turner, Jr., Liberty
TE Chris Luck, Jr., Liberty
OL Ricky Howell, Jr., Charleston Southern
OL Robert Brown, Jr., VMI
OL Eddie Pinigis, Jr., Liberty
OL Jarrett Winfrey, Sr., Liberty
OL Alex Bragg, R-So., Charleston Southern

Defense
DL Thurston Lee, Sr., Gardner-Webb
DL Steve Ackley, Jr., Liberty
DL Jason Horn, Sr., Liberty
DL Ronnie Mason, So., Coastal Carolina
LB Stevie Ray Lloyd, Jr., Liberty
LB Josh Mitchell, Jr., Charleston Southern
LB Jonna Lee, Jr., Charleston Southern
LB Mike Pavelko, So., Gardner-Webb
DB Dewitt Myers, Sr., Coastal Carolina
DB E.L. Estes, Jr., Liberty
DB Ryan Greiser, So., Liberty
DB Okeba Rollinson, R-So., Charleston So.

Special Teams
PK Barrett Way, Jr., VMI
P Adam Peters, Sr., VMI
LS Matt Skeen, Sr., Gardner-Webb
RS C.J. Hirschman, Jr., Charleston So.

Academic All-Conference Team
Nick Ellis, K/P, Jr., Charleston Southern
Josh Hoke, K, Sr., Coastal Carolina
Hunter Smith, K, Sr., Gardner-Webb
Ryan Greiser, DB, So., Liberty
Jacob Rochester, LB, So., VMI

Offensive Player Of The Year
Tyler Thigpen, QB, Sr., Coastal Carolina

Defensive Player Of The Year
Brian Johnston, DE, Jr., Gardner-Webb

Freshman Of The Year
Tim Maypray, Slotback, VMI

Coach Of The Year
Danny Rocco, Liberty

Scholar-Athlete Of The Year
Josh Hoke, K, Sr., Coastal Carolina

Steve Ackley – Second-Team All-Conference Defensive Lineman
Started nine of 11 games … finished the year ranked ninth on the team in total tackles (38) … ranked fifth in the Big South in tackles per game by a defensive linemen … ranked third on the team with eight quarterback hurries … tied for the team lead and ranked seventh in the Big South in sacks (2.5) … ranked eighth on the team by averaging 4.0 tackles per game against conference opponents … one of six players on the season with a fumble recovery … ranked third on the team in tackles for a loss (5.5) … was a part of a defensive unit that ranked 14th in scoring defense (15.64).

E.L. Estes – Second-Team All-Conference Defensive Back
Started all 11 games … ranked fifth on the team with a career high in total tackles (52) … led the team in solo tackles (35) and pass breakups (6) … averaged 5.5 tackles per game against conference opponents … ranked third in the league in total passes defended (8) … ranked seventh in the conference in tackles per game by a defensive back … led the team with a career high in total interceptions (2)… was a part of a defensive unit that ranked 14th in scoring defense (15.64) … helped the Flames rank second in the Big South in touchdown passes allowed … finished with six or more tackles in five games.

Ryan Greiser – Second-Team All-Conference Defensive Back
Started all 11 games at strong safety … posted impressive numbers in his first year as a defensive player after coming to Liberty as a highly touted running back … ranked third on the team in total tackles (63) … ranked tied for third in pass breakups (4) … was one of only two players on the team to record both a forced fumble and a fumble recovery … led the team as he averaged 8.0 tackles per game against league opponents … ranked second in the league in tackles per game by a defensive back in conference games … led Liberty with 23 solo tackles against league opponents … finished with 12 tackles against both Gardner-Webb and VMI, the most tackles by any Liberty defender on the year in a single game.

Wynton Jackson – First-Team All-Conference Return Specialist
Two-time Big South Special Teams Player of the Week … led the Big South in kickoff return yardage by almost eight yards per return over second-place finisher Duvaughn Flagler … helped the Flames rank third nationally in kickoff return average (25.56 yards per return) … set a new Big South record in kickoff return average (29.4) … helped Liberty be the only team in the nation to return three kickoffs for a touchdown … returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown against 24th-ranked Charleston Southern to help defeat the previously unbeaten Buccaneers … became the fifth player in Big South history to return a kickoff for a touchdown … ranked second in the Big South in punt return yardage … punt return averaged ranked fourth best in both Big South and school history (11.5)… set a new Big South record for total punt returns (26) … ranked third in the Big South Conference in all-purpose yards (1,159).

Rashad Jennings – First-Team All-Conference Running Back
Ranked second in the Big South (by two yards) and 35th nationally in rushing yards (1,020) … season rushing total ranked sixth in Big South history … tied for third in the league in touchdowns (10) … rushing total ranked fifth best in school history for rushing yards by a sophomore … became the sixth player in school history and the fourth in Big South history to rush for more than a 1,000 yards in a season … finished with five 100-yard rushing games, tying for the conference lead in 100-yard games … five 100-yard games ranked tied for fifth in league history … became the 10th player in school history to rush for 10 touchdowns in a season and sixth in Big South history … rushing average ranked 10th best in Big South history (92.7).

Jason Horn – Second-Team All-Conference Defensive Lineman
Big South Preseason All-Conference selection … team captain … started six of the seven games he played in … missed five games due to a fractured fibula (left leg) … at the time of his injury, he led the Big South in tackles for a loss (7.5) and sacks (5.0) … also ranked fifth nationally before his injury in sacks and sixth in tackles for a loss … still managed to finish the season ranked eighth in the Big South in tackles for a loss (7.5) … ranked fourth in the Big South in fumble recoveries (1) … tied for the team lead in tackles for a loss (7.5) and led the squad in sacks (5.0) … was a part of a defensive unit that ranked 14th in scoring defense (15.64).

Stevie Ray Lloyd – Second-Team All-Conference Linebacker
Started all 11 games in his first season at Liberty … led the Flames in total tackles (80) … ranked tied for seventh in tackles per game in the conference (7.3) … led the team and ranked sixth in the league in assisted tackles (52) … ranked second on the team as he averaged 7.8 tackles per game against Big South opponents … led the team with 20 assisted tackles against league opponents … posted seven or more tackles in eight out of 11 games this year … was a part of a defensive unit that ranked 14th in scoring defense (15.64) … ranked sixth in the league in tackles per game by a linebacker.

Chris Luck – Second-Team All-Conference Tight End
Big South Preseason All-Conference selection … played in all 11 games and started nine contests … finished the season fifth on the team in receiving (73 yards) … used mostly in blocking situations … helped the Flames rush for 2,035 yards and 23 touchdowns on the year.

Eddie Pinigis – Second-Team All-Conference Offensive Lineman
Started all 11 games at right tackle … graded out at 90 percent, which ranked second on the team … led the team in pancake blocks … allowed just one sack all season … helped the Flames rush for 2,035 yards, marking the fifth most rushing yards in a season … also helped Liberty rush for a Big South Conference leading 23 touchdowns … team finished tied for 17th nationally in rushing touchdowns … helped the team finished 10th nationally in sacks allowed (1.00), 11th in third down conversions (47 percent), seventh in fourth down conversions (71 percent), second in turnovers lost (8), 22nd in tackles for a loss allowed (4.55) and 22nd in time of possession (31:44).

Manny Rojas – First-Team All-Conference Linebacker
Big South Preseason All-Conference selection … finished his career ranked second in Big South Conference history with 348 career tackles … also finished his career ranked sixth in school history in total tackles … team captain … one of only three players to be named Big South Defensive Player of the Week twice this season … ranked second on the team in total tackles (76) and quarterback hurries (9) … led the team and tied for the Big South lead in forced fumbles (3) … tied for fifth with three pass breakups … second on the team in tackles for a loss (6.5) … averaged 7.5 tackles per game against Big South opponents … led the Flames with 33 solo tackles … posted back-to-back games with double figure tackles (including one against 24th-ranked Charleston Southern).

Stephen Sene – First-Team All-Conference Offensive Lineman
Started all 11 games at left tackle … graded out at a team-best 93 percent … led the team in knockdown blocks … did not allow a sack all season … helped the Flames rush for 2,035 yards, marking the fifth most rushing yards in a season … also helped Liberty rush for a Big South Conference leading 23 touchdowns … team finished tied for 17th nationally in rushing touchdowns … helped the team finished 10th nationally in sacks allowed (1.00), 11th in third down conversions (47 percent), seventh in fourth down conversions (71 percent), second in turnovers lost (8), 22nd in tackles for a loss allowed (4.55) and 22nd in time of possession (31:44).

Zach Terrell – Second-Team All-Conference Running Back
Big South Preseason All-Conference selection … led the Big South Conference in rushing touchdowns (13) … ranked second in the league and 32nd in the nation in scoring (78 points) … ranked second on the team and third in the Big South in rushing yards per game (61.2) … finished tied for sixth in school history and third in Big South history with 13 rushing touchdowns … helped the Flames rush for 2,035, marking the team's fifth highest rushing total in school history … recorded seven of his 13 rushing touchdowns against conference opponents … led the league in rushing yards per game in conference games (99.5) … also led the league in scoring in conference games (7).

Brandon Turner – Second-Team All-Conference Wide Receiver
Finished the season with a career high in receiving yards to lead the team (604) … led the team in touchdown receptions for the first time in his career (3) … caught two of his three touchdowns against conference opponents … ranked seventh in the league in receptions per game and fifth in the conference in receiving yards per game.

Jarrett Winfrey – Second-Team All-Conference Offensive Lineman
Started all 11 games at right guard … senior team captain … graded out at 85 percent, which ranked fifth on the team … allowed just one sack all season … helped the Flames rush for 2,035 yards, marking the fifth most rushing yards in a season … also helped Liberty rush for a Big South Conference leading 23 touchdowns … team finished tied for 17th nationally in rushing touchdowns … helped the team finished 10th nationally in sacks allowed (1.00), 11th in third down conversions (47 percent), seventh in fourth down conversions (71 percent), second in turnovers lost (8), 22nd in tackles for a loss allowed (4.55) and 22nd in time of possession (31:44).