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6 Named to Phil Steele All-Independent Team

December 20, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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6 Named to Phil Steele All-Independent Team

2018 Phil Steele Postseason All-Independent Team

Following Liberty's first season at the FBS level, the Flames have six of the best players from the FBS independent teams in the country, as selected by the Phil Steele Publications.

Liberty's Dontae Duff (OL), Antonio Gandy-Golden (WR), Frankie Hickson (RB), Jessie Lemonier (DL), Julio Lozano (OL) and Jeremy Peters (DB) have been named to the 2018 Phil Steele Postseason All-Independent Team.

Hickson, Gandy-Golden and Lozano were first-team selections, while Duff, Lemonier and Peters were named to the second-team listing.

The half dozen Flames played a significant role during Liberty's FBS transition process. Liberty finished its first season at the FBS level with a 6-6 record, becoming the ninth team in NCAA history to win six or more games during its first FBS season.

Hickson led the Flames' ground game in 2018, finishing the season with 1,032 rushing yards on 229 carries (4.5 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns. Hickson's career high yardage total allowed the junior to become the 15th player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since 2014.

Gandy-Golden became the second player in program history to post back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons, finishing his junior year with a team-best 1,037 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. The Biletnikoff Award watch list member would have ranked No. 14 in the country in receiving yards per game in 2018 (94.3), if Liberty was eligible for the national statistics rankings (not eligible due to NCAA FBS reclassification process).

Duff and Lozano paved the way for quarterback Stephen Calvert to have a record-breaking season. The two standout offensive linemen allowed the quarterback to throw for 3,068 yards and 21 touchdowns, while the junior hurler became the program's all-time leader with 65 career touchdown passes.

Duff, a junior on Liberty's offensive line, has started all 34 of his career games played, including all 12 games at right guard in 2018. Lozano, a redshirt senior, started 28 career games since transferring from Kilgore College in 2016, including starts in his last 24 games as a Flame at left tackle.

Lemonier made an immediate impact during his first season at Liberty after transferring from Ventura College prior to the 2018 season. This year, the junior had 55 tackles (30 solo, 25 assisted), including 13.5 tackles for a loss, and became the third player in program history with 10 or more sacks in a season. He would have ranked No. 8 in the country in sacks per game (0.83), if Liberty was eligible for the national statistics rankings.

Peters has been a stabilizing factor for the Flames' defensive backfield for the last four seasons, finishing his career as one of five active defenders with 40 or more career games played (42). The senior ended his days as a Flame with 127 career tackles (101 solo, 26 assisted) and 29 career pass breakups, which ranks second best in program history.