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2012 Training Camp Position Preview: OL
Throughout the month of August, LibertyFlames.com and the Flames Sports Network will be previewing each position on Liberty's football roster, continuing today with the offensive line.
Along with today's written preview about the offensive line, FSN reporter Nick Pierce had a chance to catch up with Liberty's offensive line coach Dennis Wagner to get further insight into this position of interest this August.
First-year head coach Turner Gill has first-hand knowledge of the importance of an offensive line, as a former Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback during his playing days at Nebraska.
When first looking at Liberty's depth chart entering spring practice in March, the first-year head coach found welcoming information. Four of five starters returned from a unit that helped the Flames finish the year ranked No. 8 in the country in scoring offense (35.91 points per game), No. 19 in passing offense (270.27) and 20th in total offense (426.25).
Following the spring workout session, a five-player starting line of Hunter Steward (LT), Malcolm Boyd (LG), Jay Weatherington (C), Stan Herring (RG) and Mitch Hanson (RT) seemed to have gelled and nailed down their roles heading into August.
Boyd, the most experienced and heralded one in the group, earned Associated Press third-team All-America honors after the 2011 season. The senior graded out at 86 percent and only allowed one sack all season.
Weatherington returns for a second year as the unit's starting center, a position he held during all 11 games in 2011. He finished the season grading out at 88 percent and recorded 73 knockdowns.
Herring impressed Gill and Dennis Wagner, his new position coach and one of two former head football coaches on staff, during the spring. Following a standout effort in March and April, Herring claimed a starting role, moving to right guard from left tackle, a position he started all 11 games in 2011.
Hanson and Steward are the two newcomers to the starting five positions for the Flames. Steward spent most of 2011 as a reserve defensive lineman, but the new coaching staff saw the offensive line potential for the former Virginia transfer and moved him during the offseason.
Hanson will be looking to replace Liberty's only 2011 graduate on the offensive line, Toney White, who started all 11 games at right tackle. Hanson gained experience in three games during his first playing season at Liberty and was the recipient of the program's most improved offensive player during spring practice (Samkon Gado Award).
The odd man out of the starting rotation following spring practice was 2011 team captain Aaron Lundy, who finished last year as a Big South second-team all-conference selection. He led all linemen in 2011 by grading out at 89 percent, while recording 90 knockdowns and one sack allowed.
Lundy was to be considered Liberty's "No. 6" starter coming into August training camp, but the senior was quickly inserted into the starting lineup after Weatherington suffered an inner ear injury and will miss the first several games of the season.
Offensive Line at a Glance
Hunter Steward (LT) (Jr., 6-7, 290)
Malcolm Boyd (LG) (Sr., 6-3, 295)
Jay Weatherington (C) (Sr., 6-4, 285)
Aaron Lundy (C) (Sr., 6-4, 325)
Stan Herring (RG) (Sr., 6-4, 285)
Mitch Hanson (RT) (So., 6-5, 300)
Trevor Jenkins (R-Fr., 6-4, 280)
Grant Jones (So., 6-4, 305)
Greg Ray (So., 6-4, 325)
D.J. Sellman (Sr., 6-5, 320)
Kevin Widener (So., 6-4, 275)
Ethan Callison (Fr., 6-5, 310)
Aharown Campbell (Fr., 6-4, 310)
Matt Haller (Fr., 6-3, 250)
Aaron Mondor (So., 6-4, 340)
Doug Mulhollen (Fr., 6-6, 290)
Tomorrow, LibertyFlames.com will take a look at Liberty's running backs, the most experienced returning offensive group the Flames have on their roster.
Flames will continue to hold morning practices the rest of the week, running from 9:15 to 11:50 a.m. Fans are reminded that Liberty's football practices are closed to the general public, outside of the Flames Fan Fest on Aug. 18.
Season and single game tickets remain on sale for the 2012 season through the Flames Ticket Office. For more information about tickets, contact the Flames Ticket Office at (434) 582-SEAT (7328) or by email at email@example.com.