When Turner Gill officially took over as head football coach at Liberty Univer- sity on Jan. 1, it was expected that there would be a lot of changes. That held true right from the word go, as Gill brought in a whole new staff including coaches he worked with in his previous two stops at Buffalo and Kansas, a former quarterback like himself, and even a couple of names some football fans might remember.
“I had three unique and distinct goals when assembling my coaching staff here at Liberty,” said Gill when he announced his coaching staff on Jan. 5. “First and foremost, I was looking for individuals who can build Champions for Christ, keeping with the committed vision of Liberty University. Secondly, I wanted men who were not only excellent teachers of the game of football, but also in the game of life. Finally, I was looking for individuals who could build relationships with 18-to-22-year-old young men, helping us recruit the finest talent in the country to receive their degrees and win championships at Liberty.”
When he announced his first recruiting class of 16 players on Feb. 1, Gill had a group he simply described as “explosive.”
He got his first chance to see what he had to work with as Liberty wrapped up its spring football practice season on Feb. 24. Liberty returns six all-conference honorees from last season, including wide receiver Patrick Kelly, defensive back/kick returner Kevin Fogg, and linebacker Nick Sigmon.
Liberty has finished with seven wins or more for the past six seasons, including four consecutive Big South Conference football championships from 2007-10.
A number of players are switching, or may be potentially switching, to new positions in 2012, including Gabriel Henderson, who signed as a quarterback in 2010, redshirted in 2011, and is moving to wide receiver with the graduation of All- American Chris Summers, B.J. Hayes, and Ervin Garner. During the spring football game on April 21, Greg Pratt, who came to Liberty as a wide receiver, was tested as a defensive back, and Chase Barnett, who was a wide receiver in 2011, returned to running back.
Liberty opens the 2012 season in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Sept. 1 against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, a Football Bowl Subdivision school out of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The first home game of the “Turner Gill Era” is on Sept. 8 against Norfolk State.