We continue our position preview today by turning our attention to the quarterbacks.
The repeating theme of the 2020 Liberty offense is replacing long time, significant contributors. It’s the case at every position, some more noticeable than others, like at quarterback. The Flames must replace 4-year starter Buckshot Calvert who threw for over 12,000 yards in his Liberty career as he rewrote the record book at quarterback.
Auburn transfer Malik Willis is eligible after sitting out the 2019 campaign where he served as Liberty’s scout team quarterback. Now, he looks to take over in a new look offense for the Flames in 2020. He may be the most athletic quarterback in Liberty’s history. The only one who could make a challenge would be Mike Brown. Freeze has mentioned that Willis needs to continue to work on his mechanics and accuracy, but with his ability on the ground, Willis should cause headaches for every defensive coordinator Liberty faces.
Johnathan Bennett is now a redshirt-freshman after seeing playing time in a few games before injuring his knee against Hampton as he celebrated with teammate Brandon Robinson on Pop’s first career touchdown run. Before Willis, most expected Bennett to be Buckshot’s heir apparent beginning in 2020. Now, Bennett faces stiff competition to take the reigns of the offense.
Brandon “Pop” Robinson ended with a decent amount of playing time as a redshirt-freshman in 2019 after Bennett was injured. He finished third on the team in rushing with 138 yards and 3 touchdowns while completing 2 of his 3 passes attempted for 19 yards and a touchdown. With Bennett back healthy and Willis eligible, Robinson’s reps may disappear in 2020.
Will Bowers returns to the team after redshirting last year. He’s a 6’1″ quarterback from Southlake, Texas where he attended Carroll Senior High School. He walked on to the team a year ago after throwing for 2,556 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior while also rushing for 555 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Chris Ferguson is a grad transfer from Maine who comes to Liberty with one season of eligibility remaining. He will push Willis for the starting position this summer and could be used in certain packages if he doesn’t win the starting job. He is more of a pocket passer than the others fighting for the position.
Sean Brown was a 3-star athlete that signed with Liberty in December out of Apex, North Carolina.
RJ Glod and Evan McGhee also join the program this season.
Any time you have to replace a 4-year starter at quarterback with the pedigree and statistics like Buckshot has, the offense will look and feel much different. Hugh Freeze has some options for the most important position on the field, and he’s always leaned towards using a dual threat. Honestly, the offense could be much more potent with Malik Willis behind center, provided he’s able to find consistency with his arm.