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Flames Position Previews: Defensive Line

August 24, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Daryl Robertson is one of several returning players who will look to lead the Flames defensive line in 2009.

Daryl Robertson is one of several returning players who will look to lead the Flames defensive line in 2009.

During the Flames transition week, where the squad moves from training camp to preparation for the West Virginia game, LibertyFlames.com's Countdown to Kickoff coverage is going to center more around position and Big South opponent previews.

Today, the web site will be previewing the Flames defensive line, a unit which returns several seasoned veterans, including a team captain in Trey Jacobs.

Defensive Line
When previewing this team position-by-position prior to the season, Liberty University head coach Danny Rocco was pleased to flip the page from an inexperienced offensive side of the depth chart and start to talk about his defenders.

Not to say that his offensive players are not talented, but the 20-plus year defensive coaching veteran knows that the other side of his depth chart seems to be much more solid heading into preseason training camp.

The more experienced side of the field begins up front on the defensive line, starting with Trey Jacobs at right end. The Big South preseason all-conference selection doubled his career tackles total coming into 2008, as he finished the last season with 40 stops, including six tackles for a loss and four sacks.

Also a key member of the Flames' special teams unit, Jacobs enters his final year in a Liberty uniform with four blocked kicks, leaving him one shy of the program record.

"Trey Jacobs is going into his senior year and he really has had an outstanding career for us," stated Rocco. "He will once again play the right defensive end position, as he certainly has earned a starting role there."

Flanking the Flames' defensive line on the other side will be Daryl Robertson, who returns for his second year with the program after transferring from Virginia Tech. During his first year as a reserve member on the line, the left end recorded 20 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and three pass breakups.

"Daryl Robertson came out of spring ball starting at the left end position," remarked Rocco. "He had a solid spring and he really seems to be on top of his game."

Liberty's cog in the middle of its defensive line truly solidifies the Flames' sizeable three up front, as Asa Chapman returns after playing in all 12 games as a true freshman in 2008. The 377-pounder finished the year with 10 stops and a tackle for a loss, and learned to improve his skills under the leadership of Colin Dugan, Liberty's all-conference starter at nose guard last year.

"Asa Chapman is starting for us at nose guard," said Rocco. "Asa is a big body and a hard-working kid. I think with Trey, Daryl and Asa, we've got three defensive linemen that really look the part. This is what you want your defensive front to look like in a 3-4 defense."

Backing up Jacobs and Robertson on the ends are four solid reserves in Terry Adams, Patrick Bannon, Stan Herring and Tim Smith.

Bannon is the leading returning tackler among the group, as he recorded 28 stops during his sophomore season. However, he did so at the weak side linebacker position in 2008.

"We've moved Patrick from linebacker to defensive end, and he is really chomping at the bit to get back out there on the field at his new position," stated Rocco. "Terry Adams had an outstanding spring and brings some solid play and enthusiasm to this position."

Herring leads a list of younger players Rocco is excited about on the line, who could provide depth this season and solid play down the road. "We've got some younger players in the program, like Stan Herring, who is in his second year and he has got a bright future," added Rocco.

"We've also got two freshmen in the program, Steven Wilkes and Cory Freeman, who are big, tall, long, good-looking athletes. We've got a lot of depth on the defensive line and we are hoping to get a lot of different guys playing time."

Backing up Chapman at nose guard will be redshirt freshman Greg Schuster, followed by a true freshman, Bryant Lewellyn.

"Behind Chapman at nose guard, we've got Greg Schuster, who is a very physical, hard-charging type of player," commented Rocco. "He has time a bright future.

"I think Chapman and Schuster will not necessarily split at nose guard, but they are both going to get a lot of plays during the course of the game, as we try to keep them fresh."

Defensive Line at a Glance
Front Runners
DE - Daryl Robertson (R-Jr., 6-3, 285)
NG - Asa Chapman (So., 6-5, 377)
DE - Trey Jacobs (Sr., 6-3, 280)

Contenders
Patrick Bannon (Jr., 6-4, 245)
Tim Smith (R-Jr., 6-3, 265)
Greg Schuster (NG) (R-Fr., 6-2, 275)
Terry Adams (R-Jr., 5-11, 235)

Up-and-Comers
Bryant Lewellyn (NG) (Fr., 6-1, 260)
Stan Herring (R-Fr., 6-4, 275)
Tommy Fair (R-Fr., 6-4, 260)
Cory Freeman (Fr., 6-4, 235)
Steven Wilkes (R-Fr., 6-6, 240)

After taking today off to get academically acclimated, as the University held its first day of classes today, the Flames will return to the practice field tomorrow afternoon. LibertyFlames.com will continue its Big South previews, as the web site will be taking a look at the Flames rival in Coastal Carolina, as part of its Countdown to Kickoff coverage.