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Johnson and Willis Named All-Americans; 16 Named All-Independent Team

January 6, 2021  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Defensive end Durrell Johnson and quarterback Malik Willis headline Liberty’s selections to the 2020 Phil Steele Postseason All-America and All-Independent teams.

Defensive end Durrell Johnson and quarterback Malik Willis headline Liberty's selections to the 2020 Phil Steele Postseason All-America and All-Independent teams.

2020 Phil Steele Postseason All-Independent teams

2020 Phil Steele Postseason All-America teams

Defensive end Durrell Johnson and quarterback Malik Willis headline Liberty's selections to the 2020 Phil Steele Postseason All-America and All-Independent teams.

Johnson earned fourth-team All-America honors, while Willis was an honorable mention All-America selection.

Johnson and Willis were also two of the 16 Liberty players named to the 2020 Phil Steele Postseason All-Independent first and second teams.

Liberty's 16 All-Independent selections ranked second among the four FBS independent programs. BYU led the group with 24 All-Independent selections, followed by Liberty's 16 honorees, 13 for Army and five for UMass.

During his first season with the Flames, Johnson led the Flames with 11.5 tackles for a loss (74 yards) and 8.5 sacks (65 yards). The junior college transfer currently ranks No. 28 in the country in sacks per game (0.77).

The native of Baltimore, Md., also finished 2020 with 38 tackles (25 solo, 13 assisted), which ranked fourth on the team. He added six quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and an interception, helping Liberty overall rank No. 11 nationally in total defense (317.7 yards allowed per game).

Willis was the No. 1 rushing quarterback in the country in 2020. He led all FBS quarterbacks with 944 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. Willis set school records in both statistical categories for a quarterback with his standout totals.

The native of Atlanta, Ga., also finished his first season under center for the Flames completing 170-of-265 passing attempts for 2,260 yards and 20 touchdowns. The quarterback was up for several national honors throughout the season, including the 2020 Davey O'Brien Award Quarterback Class of 2020 listing.

Liberty's first-team All-Independent selections include Anthony Butler (LB), TreShaun Clark (DL), Durrell Johnson (DL), Joshua Mack (RB), Thomas Sargeant (OL), Javon Scruggs (DB) and DJ Stubbs (WR).

The Flames second-team All-Independent selections include Alex Barbir (K), Demario Douglas (PR), Marcus Haskins (DB), Johnny Huntley (TE), Shedro Louis (KR), Cooper McCaw (OL), Brendan Schlittler (OL), Kevin Shaa (WR) and Malik Willis (QB).

Liberty had a season of "firsts" in 2020, including the teams' first-ever national ranking, first win over an ACC opponent, the best start in school history (8-0 to start 2020), first-ever win over a top-25 FBS program and back-to-back bowl game wins.

Liberty defeated a pair of ACC foes in Syracuse and in-state opponent Virginia Tech. The two wins made Liberty the first non-Power 5 team to post a pair of wins over Power 5 schools in the same season since Houston in 2015.

The Flames finished the season with a 10-1 record, tying the program's record for wins in a season (Liberty finished the 2008 season with a 10-2 record).

Liberty capped off the 2020 season with a thrilling 37-34 overtime win over No. 9/11 Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The win marked Liberty's first-ever victory over a top-25 FBS ranked program.

With the Cure Bowl win over its former Big South rivals, Liberty became the second transitioning team in NCAA history to win consecutive bowl games during its first two full seasons at the FBS level.

 

Phil Steele Postseason All-America Teams

Durrell Johnson, DE (fourth team All-American)

Malik Willis, QB (honorable mention All-American)

 

Phil Steele Postseason All-Independent Team

First Team

Joshua Mack, RB

DJ Stubbs, WR

Thomas Sargeant, OL

Durrell Johnson, DL

TreShaun Clark, DL

Anthony Butler, LB

Javon Scruggs, DB

 

Second Team

Malik Willis, QB

Kevin Shaa, WR

Johnny Huntley, TE

Brendan Schlittler, OL

Cooper McCaw, OL

Marcus Haskins, DB

Alex Barbir, K

Shedro Louis, KR

Demario Douglas, PR