10. Tom Sargeant (Last Year: #14)
Sargeant will anchor the Flames offensive line this season. The junior has helped pave the way for a powerful Flames offense, protected Buckshot as he rewrote LU’s record book, and proved to be a reliable blocker ahead of Frankie Hickson, Peyton Pickett, and Kentory Matthews. Despite being fairly undersized for an offensive lineman (6’1), Sargeant has done his job very well. He’ll be back for year three as starting center in 2019, this time blocking for Hugh Freeze’s nationally-renowned offensive mind.
9. Alex Probert (LY: #8)
Probert lost much of last season due to injury. He appeared in just four games, hitting 80% of his field goals with a long of 51 yards. If Probert can stay healthy, look for him to provide stability in a Flames kicking game that desperately needs a consistent field goal kicker.
8. Malik Willis (LY: NR)
It’s impossible to leave Willis off of this list. Willis was a 3-star QB who saw limited action in Guz Malzahn’s offense at Auburn in 2019, completing 11-of-14 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 309 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. Willis has proven to be a reliable rushing quarterback in the SEC, but a desire to showcase his passing ability helped steer him to Liberty. Willis is currently seeking a waiver that would allow him to play in 2019, but a redshirt year still seems like a real possibility. If he sees the field, don’t be surprised to see the Auburn transfer get some snaps alongside Buckshot.
7. Frankie Hickson (LY: #11)
Hickson led the Flames rushing attack in 2018, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. He missed much of the spring with an injury, but he has been a full-go through training camp. Hickson will likely see a lot of touches when he’s on the field as he another valuable weapon in a deep Flames’ offense.
6. Solomon Ajayi (LY: NR)
Ajayi starred in 2018 with 76 total tackles, a sack and a pick-six. The ceiling is very high for a healthy Ajayi in 2019, provided that he stays healthy, don’t be surprised to see Ajayi torment opposing offenses in 2019. He could have a record-setting year.
5. Austin Lewis (LY: NR)
The sophomore defensive end broke onto the scene in 2018, collecting 24 tackles and standing out in a shaky Flames defense. A revamped defensive scheme could serve as a benefit to Lewis, and expectations are high in 2019 for the 6’6″ lineman from East Tennessee who has added some weight to his frame during the offseason.
4. Dontae Duff (LY: #4)
Like Sargeant, Duff, a senior, brings experience to a Flames offensive line that could feature some new faces. There is no reason to expect that Duff won’t continue to produce in 2019, and Liberty’s past offensive success is a testament to his effectiveness. Duff will be a mainstay in the starting lineup this year like the rest of his career where he’s started all 34 games in his career.
3. Buckshot Calvert (LY: #2)
The closest thing to a pop icon that Liberty has to offer. Buckshot turned heads on national TV in 2017 with his name and outstanding play in LU’s week-one upset of Baylor as a sophomore. That year, Buckshot dominated, setting single-season records for passing yards and touchdowns. The numbers Calvert put up in 2017 were impressive, to say the least. In 2018, Calvert was one of 34 FBS quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards. He finished the year with five games of 300 yards passing or more and tossed a total of 21 touchdowns to place him in sole possession of first place in Liberty’s all-time record book for career touchdown passes. Buckshot also threw 18 interceptions, a number that must improve in 2019. Coach Freeze has lauded Calvert’s arm talent but Freeze also noted that the senior QB needs to spend more time in the film room. In his senior year, Calvert has an astronomical ceiling. If Buckshot is accepting of the new regime’s constructive criticism, applies himself in the film room, and leads an offense the way he is capable of, his name could very well end up on an NFL draft board come April. As difficult as it is to imagine, competitive pressure from Johnathan Bennett and Malik Willis could push Calvert to previously unseen heights. If you’re not excited to see what this kid does in 2019, you’re not a college football fan.
2. Jessie Lemonier (LY: #17)
Lemonier gets to quarterbacks, plain and simple. The senior linebacker is a well-known leader of Liberty’s defense, and Lemonier is arguably an NFL talent. He tallied ten sacks and forced two fumbles in 2018. Lemonier will look to make 2019 a statement year as he also prepares for the NFL.
1. Antonio Gandy-Golden (LY: #1)
Gandy-Golden will again enter week one as Liberty’s undisputed top WR target. Liberty’s top draft prospect, AGG hauled in 71 passes for 1,037 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, including a two-touchdown, 200-yard outburst in a triple-OT loss at Massachusetts. Gandy-Golden’s athleticism, explosiveness, height and catch radius make him a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses and a security blanket for Kent Austin’s QB room. Combined with Freeze’s highly-effective offensive scheme, the expectations are high for Gandy-Golden in his senior season.