The Flames have benefited the past 4 years from having the same starting quarterback. No questions in the off-season about who the opening day starter will be. No quarterback controversies. No inexperienced play from the most important position on the field. Entering his 5th season at Liberty, Coach Gill has never had a quarterback he recruited be the main guy. That all changes in 2016.
We all know Stephon Masha. The lone returning quarterback with playing experience. The 6’1”, 195 pound Marietta, Georgia native is entering his 4th season in the program. He red-shirted in 2013 before seeing game action in both of the last 2 seasons. Masha started 2 games for an injured Josh Woodrum towards the end of the 2014 season, going 1-1, and leading the Flames to a win over #1 Coastal Carolina as the team clinched a spot in the FCS Playoffs for the first time in school history.
Masha will be challenged by true freshmen Rudiger Yearick and Stephen Calvert, who have both verbally committed to Liberty. Yearick chose Liberty over offers from Cornell, Harvard, and Yale, and he is a 2-star prospect according to 247Sports and Scout. Yearick plans to enroll in the spring to begin practicing with the team right away. Calvert also has offers from Florida International, South Florida, and Bethune Cookman. He is a 3-star rated prospect according to 247Sports and Rivals. Both have been told they would have an opportunity to compete for the starting job immediately.
Departing senior QB Josh Woodrum had his own take on his replacement just minutes after he finished his Liberty career: “We don’t know who’s going to be the starting quarterback next year. I’ve been the guy for 4 years now. I set the bar pretty high for the guys coming in. They’re going to have a good role model to follow and I hope they can have the success that I was able to have. I’ve been around great players, great coaches. I’ve had great games, I’ve had really bad games. It’s been a really tough road, but I hope I can be a great example for those guys so that when they get here and they want to play great and they want to try to break the records I set for them it’s only going to make the team and the receivers and the offense and the defense better.”
From now until a starter is named for the opener September 3rd at Virginia Tech, we will be giving you an inside look at how this quarterback competition is shaking out. Through signing day, spring practice, summer workouts, and fall camp, we will follow all the ups, downs, ins and outs of the position battle. So, check back frequently over the coming weeks as we are on “The Search” for our next QB.