Business as Usual

NFL was locked out, but not NCAA

Focus — Flames look toward opener

Not long ago, every newspaper in America had the same headline. “Football is back,” or some variation thereof. Ask Danny Rocco, Mike Brown or Asa Chapman and they’ll tell you football never left. Not for them or the other hundred or so Liberty football players who have been living in weight rooms, camping on practice fields and haunting film archives all summer.

After missing last season’s nod to represent the Big South in the FCS playoffs, Rocco, Brown and Chapman got to work on this season’s squad with the post-season circled on their maps.

“(Our hunger) grows each and every year especially when we haven’t made it and fell short as we have recently,” Walter Payton candidate, senior quarterback Brown said.

Veteran receiving targets Chris Summers, Ervin Garner, Pat Kelley and B.J. Hayes will lead Liberty’s passing attack. Summers returns after a breakout 1,000-yard receiving season donning a captain’s band and multiple preseason honors.

On the defensive side of the ball, more experience in veteran transfers and speedier personnel have improved Liberty’s squad over the summer.

Liberty’s front five will field four to five new starters in 2011 but will be led by junior Malcom Boyd, who finished the 2010 campaign with 82 knockdowns. Liberty Christian Academy standout 300-pounder Grant Jones is on many local fans starting depth charts, but might not spend too much time on the field immediately amongst Rocco’s more experienced juniors.

On the defensive side of the ball, Rocco will field experienced transfers and a speedier defensive unit.

“Honestly we feel it’s about time for us to step up,” 380-pound nose tackle and team captain Chapman said. “(Last year) we left too much to chance. Hopefully we can play better this year to where we can earn it this time to where nobody can even take a guess.”

Illinois transfer Walt Aikens has been highly touted since signing on with the Flames. Standing at 6-1 and weighing in at 195 pounds, Aikens brings size to the defensive backfield. Junior Kevin Fogg brings blazing speed to the defensive backs, as well as in special team coverage.

This defense faces it’s first test of the year in ACC powerhouse North Carolina State, Sept. 3.

Rocco’s MO for the game, as well as the season — protect the football. Play solid defense and dominate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *