Defensive team captain Patrick Bannon is one of three seniors defensive ends who will look to lead Liberty's defense in 2010.
Throughout the month of August, LibertyFlames.com will be running previews of each position on the Flames' roster as part of its Countdown to Kickoff coverage, leading up to the home opener against St. Francis, Pa., on Sept. 4. The web site's position previews continue today with a look at Liberty's defensive line, as we try to prepare you for Saturday's defensive Flames Football Preview Show. Liberty's defensive line is loaded with upperclassmen, including three senior defensive ends (Patrick Bannon, Daryl Robertson and Terry Adams) and junior nose guard (Asa Chapman). Defensive Line Head coach Danny Rocco, a 20-plus year veteran of coaching the defensive side of the field before taking over the Flames program, is openly excited about his overall defense in 2010, due to the unit's unique speed and quickness. Although not totally common, that speed is even evident on the Flames' defensive line, starting with three seniors on the outside of Liberty's first lines of defense. "We have three senior defensive ends that I think could be very special this year," commented Rocco. "First among this group is Patrick Bannon, who is a real physical and tough player. He was a linebacker, but we've moved him to the defensive line, which has been a great fit for our program." Bannon only finished the 2009 season with 16 tackles, evenly splitting eight solo and eight assisted tackles over 11 games. Despite the lower number, Bannon is so well respected among his peers that he was selected one of three defensive team captains this past spring. "Terry Adams is another explosive athlete on the outside for us," added Rocco. "He is a bit undersized, but he makes it up with his strength and power." Despite starting only one game last year, Adams ranked seventh overall in total tackles and first among the defensive linemen. He posted career numbers, finishing the 2009 season with 41 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, two sacks and four quarterback hurries. "Our final senior on the defensive line is Daryl Robertson," continued Rocco. "Daryl had a very solid first year with our program last season and he should complete a great three-man rotation at our end positions." Robertson finished his first year at Liberty with 37 stops, after the Bedford, Va., native transferred closer to home following two years at Virginia Tech. He also added five and half tackles for a loss, two sacks, four quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and an interception. "Behind these guys, we have some very young, but potential talent," remarked Rocco. "Justin Gunn is a transfer from Washington, who was a high school quarterback and played tight end at Washington. His body has continued to grow, so we've turned him into a defensive end, which we believe is going to be the perfect fit for him." Joining Gunn as reserve defensive ends will be Paco Varol, Cory Freeman and Tim Smith. "Paco and Cory are newer to our program, but as they continue to get bigger and stronger, they are showing great promise," added Rocco. "Tim has been a great role player in our program for many years and we are looking for him to have another solid year during his senior campaign." Stationed between Liberty's defensive ends on its 3-4 defensive scheme will be returning starting nose guard Asa Chapman. The junior continues to develop into what Rocco hopes will be an all-conference player after finishing 2009 with 40 tackles, two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and his first career fumble recovery. "Asa had a very good sophomore year," stated Rocco. "He has everything we are looking for in a nose guard. He has enormous size and nose for the football. He plays hard and I'm excepting some great things from him this year." Behind Chapman will be a pair of untested but seemingly ready players in Greg Schuster and Bryant Lewellyn. Both sophomores had solid springs and should provide considerable depth at the position. "Greg is coming off a knee injury that kept him out of spring practice, but we are confident he will become a good player for us," concluded Rocco. "Bryant offers us a third player at nose guard, giving us great depth at this position with his size and worth ethic."
Defensive Line at a Glance Front Runners DE Daryl Robertson (R-Sr., 6-2, 285) - or - Patrick Bannon (R-Sr., 6-4, 245) NG Asa Chapman (Jr., 6-5, 380) DE Terry Adams (R-Sr., 6-0, 255) - or - Patrick Bannon (R-Sr., 6-4, 245)
Contenders Cory Freeman (R-Fr., 6-4, 250) Justin Gunn (R-So., 6-4, 205) Greg Schuster (NG) (R-So., 6-2, 300) Tim Smith (R-Sr., 6-4, 285) Paco Varol (R-Fr., 6-3, 250)
Up-and-Comers Dylan Bowman (Fr., 6-3, 240) Bryant Lewellyn (NG) (R-So., 6-1, 290)
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