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2014 Training Camp Position Preview: OL
During the month of August, LibertyFlames.com will preview each position on Liberty's football roster before the Flames open the season on the road at North Carolina on Aug. 30.
LibertyFlames.com continues its series today by looking at the Flames' offensive line, a group that helped Liberty set program records last season.
In 2013, Liberty set a program record with 36 rushing touchdowns and ran for 2,209 yards. Liberty ranked second in the Big South in rushing yards per game (184.08). With the help of Liberty's big men up front, the Flames also ranked No. 22 in the country in fewest sacks allowed per game (1.17).
The Flames are looking to replace two-year starter Hunter Steward at left tackle. Stewart, a native of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, was a first round draft pick by the CFL's B.C. Lions in 2013. He started 22 out of 23 games his last two years after making the transition from defensive line in 2011.
Looking to fill the void left by Steward's graduation will be Max Sommer, who played behind Steward in 2013 and started in his place against Monmouth.
Liberty has a strong track record of quickly developing underclassmen on the offensive line. In their first year with the program, Burgess and Campbell both played a significant role in Liberty's offensive success in 2013.
In his first season with the program after transferring from Virginia State, Burgess earned All-Big South and VaSID all-state second-team honors and finished the year tied for the highest grade on the offensive line. Campbell started all 12 games during his redshirt freshman season.
Head Football Coach Turner Gill will be looking to establish a group of eight or nine players he can rotate in on the offensive line. The group will come from his starting five and a strong contingent of reserves that could include Ethan Callison (So., 6-5, 315), Cody Gochenouer (R-Jr., 6-3, 290), Michael Henderman (R-Fr., 6-3, 290), Lucas Holder (R-Fr., 6-5, 270) and Grant Jones (Jr., 6-5, 310).
Liberty's offensive line will be looking to block for a new starting running back in 2014 following the offseason injury to 2013 All-Big South running back Desmond Rice who had a career year last year (967 yards, 16 TDs). D.J. Abnar (411 yards, 6 TDs) and Austin Kaigler (129 yards, 3 TDs) are the front runners to fill this role during the upcoming season.
LibertyFlames.com will continue its position previews next week when the website takes a look at the Flames' quarterbacks.
LT – Max Sommer (Jr., 6-6, 300)
LG – Jonathan Burgess (Jr., 6-2, 305)
C – Greg Ray (Sr., 6-3, 300)
RG – Aharown Campbell (So., 6-5, 325)
RT – Mitch Hanson (Sr., 6-5, 300)
Ethan Callison (So., 6-5, 315)
Cody Gochenouer (R-Jr., 6-3, 290)
Michael Henderman (R-Fr., 6-3, 290)
Lucas Holder (R-Fr., 6-5, 270)
Grant Jones (Jr., 6-5, 310)
Dylan Brucki (R-Fr., 6-4, 290)
Trey Caso (Fr., 6-5, 260)
Jeff Fox (Fr., 6-4, 28)
Tanner Hartman (R-Fr., 6-4, 290)
James Passmore (Fr., 6-6, 275)
Gregg Storey (Fr., 6-5, 315)
Kris Wilson (So., 6-3, 300)