Coach Freeze and the Liberty Flames had a very successful signing day, inking 8 signees, bringing the class to 22 including the 14 signees from December. With one 4-star, nine 3-stars, and eight 2-star prospects comprising the class, it easily becomes the highest rated Liberty signing class in school history.
For comparison’s sake, last year’s class had five 3-stars and ten 2-stars and was by far the best class until now. Liberty’s final 3 classes as an FCS member (2015-2017), had a combined five 3-stars and six 2-stars.
Not all of Liberty’s signings have been updated on national recruiting sites like 247Sports and Rivals to give a more accurate assessment of where the class ranks nationally. 247Sports currently has it listed as the 143rd best in the country, but they only have Liberty with six 3-stars.
Being able to swing a surprise this week in 4-star corner Tayvion “Tank” Land certainly was an attention getter. It received a ton of local and even national attention. Hauling in a prospect that highly rated, particularly from the talent-rich 757, can prove fruitful moving forward as the Liberty football brand continues to grow at the FBS level.
“I don’t think you can overstate the importance of it,” Freeze said Wednesday of getting a guy in Virginia that highly rated.
Land was committed to Maryland until his recruitment opened back up in late January. Freeze was at Ocean Lakes High School that day recruiting some of the juniors. He left and was headed to the airport when he got a call that made him reverse direction. Freeze learned that Liberty had a chance with Land and immediately put a full-court press on the talented 4-star. Before the day was over, Freeze was joined at his home by defensive coordinator Scott Symons and cornerbacks coach Ricky Hunley.
“I was able to get into that home that afternoon,” Freeze said. “I think I was the first one in the home since his recruitment kinda opened back up. Others followed us, but it’s always good to be the first face in there.”
Land wasn’t the only defensive product the Flames’ targeted late in the process. Kei’Trel Clark was another corner Liberty got in on late in the process. He had several G5 and FCS offers, but Liberty was able to seal the deal by getting him on campus this past Sunday. Freeze called the signing of the Richmond area product a “homerun for us.”
“I feel like we have to improve our efforts in Virginia,” Freeze said. “There are certain areas in this state that have produced great talent year in, year out. There’s no reason why, with us moving to FBS and us having the facilities that we’re going to have, there’s no reason why we’re not a logical Group of 5 choice, and even in some cases, we might upset the apple cart and beat some Power 5s on those kids in this state. I think it’s very important.”
With the additions of Land and Clark, Liberty’s 2019 class now has 4 from Virginia. Brookville’s Micah Glaize and Heritage’s Chris Megginson signed with Liberty in December. Freeze highlighted Richmond, the 757, and Norther Virginia as being particularly important for the Flames to have a strong recruiting presence.
Three Junior College transfers signed with Liberty on Wednesday, and Freeze anticipates all three of them will make an immediate impact. Defensive tackles William Green and Elijah James provide the type of length Freeze was looking for up front defensively. At 6’5″ and 6’6″, respectively, Green and James will quickly help beef up the interior of the defensive line. Maisen Knight, a JUCO signee from Salt Lake City, will be slotted at left tackle when he arrives on campus, and he will compete for the starting spot there left vacant with the graduation of Julio Lozano.
Another signee Freeze spoke highly of was 3-star tight end Micaiah Overton. The 6’4″, 225 pound prospect hails from Bessemer Academy in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but he is originally from Fort Worth, Texas. He picked up several FBS offers late in the process, including Arizona State, UAB, and UConn.
“He’s one of those kids where you watch his film and you’re just thinking, man, the ceiling for this kid could be really, really special,” Freeze said of Overton. “I’ve signed some kids like that in the past, like an Evan Engram, who had very few offers, if any. I think we ended up being his only Division I offer when I was at (Ole Miss). That guy was a first round draft pick. I see (Overton) with that same type of potential. It was not easy. A lot of schools came in on the end for him, his phone was blowing up his whole visit here. It was a fight, but they left this place feeling at home.”
In addition to Land, who is the highest rated Liberty signee in school history, several other of these signees rank high in the Flames’ all-time best recruits. According to 247Sports, Elijah James ranks 7th, while December signees C.J. Yarbrough and Brayden Monday are 8th and 9th, respectively, on the listing of Liberty’s highest ever rated recruits. In total, 10 of the 22 class of 2019 signees, rank in the top 25 of best ever recruits to the new FBS member. Additionally, 5 signees from last year’s class also rank in the top 25, and 19 of the top 25 are currently on the roster.
This will continue to be the trend as the program continues to grow. While Land was the first ever 4-star signee, he won’t be the last. Could we see multiple next year?
“What I told (the staff) this morning, we will crush it next year,” Freeze said. “That’s how confident I am in this staff. What I saw them do and how well they worked together, how the place shows itself on a recruiting weekend, the support of the administration every weekend – whether it was 1 kid or 8 kids. Everybody gave the same focus and the same effort on showing who we are at Liberty. I’m real confident, give us a year and it will be even better.”
“We’ve got a chance here to do some things that have never been done before.”