Coach Gill and his staff are welcoming a total of 30 newcomers to the 2018 football team as it prepares for its first season as an FBS member. Obviously, many of these newcomers will play and make an impact this season, but who will make the biggest impact? Two transfers, wide receiver Johnny Huntley and running back Josh Mack, are ineligible in 2018 due to NCAA transfer rules, and they will certainly make a huge impact beginning in 2019. As referenced in our depth chart projection, certain positions have the greatest needs for immediate impacts. Here’s our best projection at who will have the biggest and most immediate impact on the Liberty Flames football team in 2018:
TE Chris Barrett
The JUCO transfer from Clearwater, Florida had 10 catches for 114 yards in 5 games last year for ASA College Miami. He has 3 years of eligibility remaining and was one of the top tight end prospects in the country out of high school. He spent the 2016 season at Georgia Southern where he redshirted. He was a 3-star recruit out of high school and had numerous FBS offers.
OL Henry Chibueze
One of the highest rated prospects to ever sign with Liberty out of high school, Chibueze had offers from East Carolina, James Madison, North Carolina, Temple, and Virginia. Offensive line is always a difficult place to make an immediate impact, but at his size (6’3″, 340) and skill level he could find his way into Liberty’s rotation as a true freshman.
DE Jessie Lemonier
Of this group, Lemonier could make the most substantial impact in 2018 as he is an experienced athlete at a position of need with incredible talent. The 6’3″, 240 pound defensive end is originally from Miami. He had numerous offers including Miami (OH), UMass and New Mexico coming out of Ventura Community College in Ventura, California.
DE Austin Lewis
Along with Chibueze, Lewis is also one of the highest rated prospects to ever sign with the Flames out of high school. He chose Liberty over numerous offers including Army, Colorado State, Kansas State, UMass, and Navy. The 6’6″, 235 pound defensive end could easily find himself in the rotation on Coach Singletary’s defensive front this fall.
RB Peytton Pickett
Coming to Liberty after spending a season each at UMass and Trinity Valley Community College, Pickett will look to break into the Flames’ running back rotation. The Flames have to replace leading rusher Carrington Mosley and Todd Macon. Pickett rushed for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns at Trinity Valley in 2017 after redshirting at UMass the season prior.
WR Kevin Shaa
Shaa was a highly productive prospect at City College of San Francisco, hauling in 42 catches for 840 yards and 7 touchdowns in his 2 seasons there. He was able to enroll for the spring semester and made an immediate impression. With Cephas Reddick no longer on the team, there will be reps at wide receiver for someone like Shaa to capitalize on.
With so many newcomers, there will be more than 6 that make an impact. Here’s a few other names to keep an eye on this fall – RB Troy Henderson, WRs Sean Queen and JT Wood, TE Mason Yost, DB Hunter Goetz.