Liberty is predicted to finish second in the Big South Conference for football in 2014 as announced at the 2014 Big South Football Media Day luncheon today in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Flames, who finished last season 8-4 and shared the conference title with Coastal Carolina (4-1 Big South), received 92 votes (four first-place votes) in the annual preseason poll voted on by the league's coaches and a select media panel.
The Chanticleers, who advanced to the quarterfinal round of the 2013 NCAA FCS Playoffs, were predicted to win the league by taking home 104 votes (14 first-place votes). Coastal Carolina finished 2013 with a 12-3 record and ranked No. 7 in the country.
Charleston Southern, who was 10-3 and ranked No. 24 in the nation in 2013, was ranked third in the preseason poll, followed by Gardner-Webb, league newcomer Monmouth and Presbyterian College.
A total of seven Liberty players were named to the Big South Preseason All-Conference squad, which ranked second to Coastal Carolina's nine selections.
Liberty's seven Big South Preseason All-Conference honorees were: Darrin Peterson (WR/Jr.), Jonathan Burgess (OL/Jr.), Greg Ray (OL/Sr.), Mitch Hanson (OL/Sr.), Chima Uzowihe (DL/Jr.), Nick Sigmon (LB/Sr.) and Jacob Hagen (DB/Sr.).
Liberty led the Big South with four Big South Preseason All-Conference selections on offense.
The Flames will begin their third season under head football coach Turner Gill on Aug. 30 when they face the Tar Heels of North Carolina at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Liberty, who has won six out of the last seven Big South titles, will begin its conference schedule against Gardner-Webb on Oct. 25 at Williams Stadium.
The Flames will look to secure their seventh Big South title and their first-ever trip to the NCAA FCS Playoffs when they conclude their conference slate at Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina, at Coastal Carolina on Nov. 22.
2014 Big South Football Preseason All-Conference Team
Offense – School – Year QB - Alex Ross, Coastal Carolina, R-Jr. RB - Christian Reyes, Charleston Southern, Sr. RB - Juanne Blount, Gardner-Webb, R-Sr. WR - Kenny Cook, Gardner-Webb, R-Sr. WR - Darrin Peterson, Liberty, Jr. WR - Tobi Antigha, Presbyterian College, Sr. TE - Mike Estes, Gardner-Webb, R-So. OL - Chad Hamilton, Coastal Carolina, R-Sr. OL - Jonathan Burgess, Liberty, Jr. OL - Greg Ray, Liberty, Jr. OL - Clayton Truitt, Charleston Southern, Sr. OL - Mitch Hanson, Liberty, Sr.
Defense – School – Year DL - O.J. Le'iatua Mau, Gardner-Webb, Jr. DL - Chima Uzowihe, Liberty, Jr. DL - Calvin Hollenhorst, Coastal Carolina, R-Jr. DL - Dylan Black, Charleston Southern, Sr. LB - Quinn Backus, Coastal Carolina, Sr. LB - Nick Sigmon, Liberty, Sr. LB - Tanner Burch, Gardner-Webb, Sr. LB - Chad Geter, Gardner-Webb, Jr. DB - Jacob Hagen, Liberty, Sr. DB - Richie Sampson, Coastal Carolina, Jr. DB - Demaris Freeman, Charleston Southern, R-Sr. DB - Denzel Rice, Coastal Carolina, Sr.
Special Teams – School – Year PK - Alex Catron, Coastal Carolina, Sr. P - Austin Cain, Coastal Carolina, R-Sr. LS - Cannon Jordan, Presbyterian College, R-Sr. KR - Devin Brown, Coastal Carolina, So. PR - Jeremiah McKie, Presbyterian College, Sr.
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Alex Ross, Coastal Carolina, R-Jr., QB, Alpharetta, Ga.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Quinn Backus, Coastal Carolina, Sr., LB, Greenwood, S.C.
2014 Preseason Poll (first-place votes) 1. Coastal Carolina (14) - 104 2. Liberty (4) - 92 3. Charleston Southern - 65 4. Gardner-Webb - 58 5. Monmouth - 32 6. Presbyterian College - 27
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