Athletics

2017 Football Outlook

By Todd Wetmore, June 1, 2017
Athletics

2017 Football Outlook

By Todd Wetmore, June 1, 2017

Although much of the excitement surrounding Liberty’s football program right now is its two-year FBS reclassification process, don’t think that the Flames are overlooking the 2017 season.

Liberty, which will be an FCS independent program this fall, is coming off its 11th-straight winning season. Flames Football is one of only five FCS programs in the country to post a winning campaign for 10 or more consecutive seasons.

Todd Macon

A youthful offense was able to gel after a challenging start to the 2016 season, reeling off five wins in a row to capture a share of the Big South title. The winning streak was the program’s longest since 2013 and allowed the Flames to claim their eighth Big South title in the last 10 seasons.

Buckshot Calvert was at the head of the youth movement, taking over as the Flames’ starting quarterback five games into the season. The true freshman finished the year with the third-highest passing total by a college rookie in program history (1,931 yards).

The native of Plantation, Fla., was named to the HERO Sports Freshman All-America team and finished as one of two Liberty players named as finalists for the Jerry Rice Award (top FCS freshman in the country).

Working alongside Calvert in 2016 were a trio of running backs: rising seniors Todd Macon and Carrington Mosley, and upcoming sophomore Frankie Hickson. The three combined to rush for 1,737 yards and 16 touchdowns during last year’s Big South championship run.

Calvert’s top returning targets for the upcoming campaign will be rising junior B.J. Farrow and rising sophomore Antonio Gandy-Golden, who each had three touchdown receptions in 2016.

Farrow caught the game-winning touchdown in Liberty’s upset win against No. 4 Coastal Carolina during the Flames’ 2015 season finale, springboarding his sophomore season where he ranked second on the team in receptions (30) and third in yards (281).

Gandy-Golden wasted little time making his mark, finishing 2016 with the second-most receiving yards on the team (315) and fourth in receptions (21) — all as a true freshman.

Another rookie who wrote his name in Liberty’s record books was Alex Probert. The kicker set a school record for points scored by a freshman (78), was named to the HERO Sports Freshman All-America team, and was the second Flames finalist for the Jerry Rice Award.

On the defensive side of the ball, Liberty has a good mixture of veteran players and upcoming standouts that make up the team’s seven returning starters.

Solomon McGinty and Juwan Wells are key players on a defensive unit that ranked No. 12 in the country in turnovers gained last year, No. 18 in red zone defense, and No. 20 in first down defense.

Wells was named to the HERO Sports Sophomore All-America team and has recorded 18.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks during the defensive lineman’s first two years at Liberty.

McGinty, a 2016 transfer, played safety during his first year with the Flames and ranked fourth on the team with 52 tackles. During his senior campaign, the Navasota, Texas, native will anchor the Flames’ defense from the middle of the field as linebacker.

With a younger group taking over several key positions on Liberty’s roster in 2017, the Flames’ future — both on the gridiron and as a program in the middle of an exciting transition — seems brighter than ever with the FBS level just over the horizon.


Support the Flames’ move to FBS

Fans can support Liberty Football and enjoy special game-day privileges by joining the Flames Club. The Flames Club exists to underwrite Liberty Athletics’ three-fold mission to Train Champions for Christ, provide a world-class student-athlete experience, and achieve victory with integrity.

Club members can enjoy preferred parking, seating, and pregame hospitality benefits, based upon membership level. All seats at Williams Stadium, other than general admission bleacher seats, require membership in the Flames Club. Membership starts at $60.

For more information about season tickets, reserved seats, and club seats, call the Flames Club at 434-582-CLUB (2582), email FlamesClub@Liberty.edu, or visit LibertyFlames.com/FlamesClub.

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