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Lewis Named VaSID Defensive Rookie of the Year; 5 Named to All-State Team

January 24, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Lewis Named VaSID Defensive Rookie of the Year; 5 Named to All-State Team

2018 VaSID All-State Football Team

After earning Freshman All-America honors, Liberty's Austin Lewis has been named the VaSID Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID), earlier today.

Lewis was named the Commonwealth's top freshman defensive player of 2018, while five of his fellow teammates were named to the VaSID all-state first and second teams.

Running back Frankie Hickson was named to the VaSID all-state first team. Wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden, offensive lineman Dontae Duff, offensive lineman Julio Lozano and defensive lineman Jessie Lemonier were named to the all-state second team.

Earlier this month, Lewis was one of 32 players named to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team. The freshman is the first player in program history to be named the Commonwealth's top rookie defensive player.

Lewis finished his freshman season at Liberty with 24 tackles (13 solo, 11 assisted), including 6.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. He saw playing time in all 12 games, including two starts and recorded multiple tackles in six out of 12 games.

Lewis got his first career start against Army, finishing the contest with a season-best eight tackles (four solo, four assisted). He helped Liberty secure a win over Troy, finishing the game with two solo stops, including a seven-yard sack to end a Troy drive in the fourth quarter.

Hickson led the Flames' ground game in 2018, finishing the season with 1,032 rushing yards on 229 carries (4.5 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns. Hickson's career high yardage total allowed the junior to become the 15th player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since 2014.

Gandy-Golden became the second player in program history to post back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons, finishing his junior year with a team-best 1,037 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. The Biletnikoff Award watch list member would have ranked No. 14 in the country in receiving yards per game in 2018 (94.3), if Liberty was eligible for the national statistics rankings (not eligible due to NCAA FBS reclassification process).

Duff and Lozano paved the way for quarterback Stephen Calvert to have a record-breaking season. The two standout offensive linemen allowed the quarterback to throw for 3,068 yards and 21 touchdowns, while the junior hurler became the program's all-time leader with 65 career touchdown passes.

Duff, a junior on Liberty's offensive line, has started all 34 of his career games played, including all 12 games at right guard in 2018. Lozano, a redshirt senior, started 28 career games since transferring from Kilgore College in 2016, including starts in his last 24 games as a Flame at left tackle.

Lemonier made an immediate impact during his first season at Liberty after transferring from Ventura College prior to the 2018 season. This year, the junior had 55 tackles (30 solo, 25 assisted), including 13.5 tackles for a loss, and became the third player in program history with 10 or more sacks in a season. He would have ranked No. 8 in the country in sacks per game (0.83), if Liberty was eligible for the national statistics rankings.

The six Flames played a part in Liberty finishing its inaugural campaign at the FBS level with a 6-6 overall record. With the half dozen victories, Liberty became the ninth team in NCAA history to win six or more games during its first season at the FBS level.