Our 3rd annual 30 players in 30 days where we countdown our list of the 30 best current Flames’ football players. While we don’t know if there will be a 2020 season yet or when the first game will be played, we begin our ranking today with Nos. 30-21.
Each year this ranking brings its unique subplots, but the 2020 season sets out to be a year of transition for the Liberty football roster. Gone are the mainstays on the list in the likes of Antonio Gandy-Golden, Buckshot Calvert, Jessie Lemonier, Dontae Duff, Frankie Hickson, and Damian King.
In total, 17 of the 30 names on our list did not make our ranking last year, but that doesn’t mean Liberty doesn’t have some talent on this team. In fact, the Flames have more talent on the 2020 football roster than ever before, the talent is just young and mostly inexperienced.
Here’s our ranking of the first 10 on this list, and be sure to check back later this month for the rest of the ranking!
30. Brendan Schlittler (Last Year: NR)
Schlittler saw playing time in all 13 games last season as a redshirt-freshman and backup at right guard. Now, following the graduation of Dontae Duff, he looks to move into the Flames’ starting lineup on the offensive line.
The 6’5″, 305 pound student-athlete hails from Eureka, Missouria and was named first-team all-state following his senior season at Eureka High School. He was a part of Liberty’s first signing class following the team’s February 2017 announcement of moving to the FBS ranks. Schlittler chose Liberty over offers from about 15 FCS schools and FBS members Army, Northern Illinois, and Texas State.
29. Micah Glaize (Last year: NR)
Another sophomore, Glaize played in 12 of 13 games last season as a true freshman, finishing with 11 tackles and a QB hurry. The local Lynchburg product out of Brookville High School was a safety last year, but could be seeing playing time at linebacker in 2020.
The 6’1″, 190 pound Glaize was a 2-star rated prospect out of Brookville and signed with Liberty over offers from Old Dominion and several FCS schools. After serving as a key reserve last year, he looks to become a key contributor on the young Flames’ defense.
28. Chris Megginson (Last year: NR)
The third straight sophomore and first timer on this list, Megginson played in all 13 games as a true freshman last year at both cornerback and safety as well as being a key contributor on Liberty’s special teams units. He finished the 2019 season with 14 tackles and 2 pass breakups.
Following a similar path as Glaize, Megginson is also out of Lynchburg where he attended Heritage High School. He chose Liberty over offers from Georgia State and several FCS schools after helping Heritage claim the 2018 VHSL 3A State championship his senior season.
This season, Megginson will be a key factor at corner for the Flames and could emerge as a starter opposite Jimmy Faulks. Regardless, the 6’0″, 185 pound defensive back will be needed in Liberty’s defensive secondary.
27. Isaac Steele (Last year: 11)
Our first player on this list that also made the countdown last year, Steele hopes to rebound from a 2019 season where he struggled with injuries throughout the campaign. Still, he saw playing time in 10 games while starting 3 and finished with 24 tackles, 2 pass breakups, and an interception.
As a redshirt-sophomore in 2018 after transferring from Mesa Community College, Steele was one of Liberty’s top defenders as he finished third on the team 65 tackles and was tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions while starting 11 of Liberty’s 12 games.
If healthy, Steele is far too low on this list as he has the ability to be a top 10 player for the Flames. He should be a starter among the team’s safeties.
26. Chris Ferguson (Last year: NR)
Another newcomer to this list, Ferguson is a grad transfer from Maine who enrolled with the program in January and took part in Liberty’s spring practices. He played for three seasons at Maine, finishing his career with 5,157 passing yards and 34 touchdowns in 23 games.
The 6’3″, 235 pound signal-caller is a perfect fit for the football program this season as the Flames look to move on from the Buckshot-era. While Auburn transfer Malik Willis is the favorite to win the starting job, Ferguson provides experience and competition at the most important position on the field.
Even if he is named the backup, Ferguson could still find a role with a package of plays designed to showcase his abilities and offset Willis’.
25. Kevin Shaa (Last year: NR)
The 5’10”, 165 pound receiver, played in 11 games last season and finished third on the team with 26 receptions and 346 yards. At his size, he’s the prototypical slot receiver, but he has been used as more of a utility receiver for the Flames playing in the slot and on the outside, as needed.
Shaa transferred into Liberty from City College of San Francisco. He played in 4 games in 2018 before ultimately redshirting. He will find playing time in a crowded receiver room, the question is just how much.
24. Bryce Mathews (Last year: NR)
Mathews is a 6’6″, 300 pound grad transfer from Ole Miss where he saw playing time in 20 games during his four year career with the Rebels. He’s a graduate of Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee and was a 4-star prospect and ranked as one of the top 250 prospects in the country out of high school.
With one season of eligibility remaining, Mathews could easily slide into a starting position at right tackle where Sam Isaacson’s graduation has left a vacancy. Or, if Cooper McCaw proves he is ready to overtake that position, Mathews could be used as a 6th man off the bench in a reserve role at all offensive line positions.
23. Brayden Monday (Last year: NR)
Monday played in the first four games as a true freshman last season before being shutdown to preserve his redshirt season. He finished those four games with 8 tackles.
As a redshirt-freshman, the 6’5″, 245 pound defensive end should see a significant jump in playing time as he is likely to rotate with Austin Lewis at one defensive end spot while TreShaun Clark and Durrell Johnson anchor the opposite DE position left vacated by Jessie Lemonier.
When Monday committed to Liberty under former head coach Turner Gill, he was one of the highest rated prospects the Flames had ever received commitments from. He had a laundry list of offers including from Charlotte, East Carolina, Florida, Michigan State, and Ohio State.
When he first joined the program, Coach Freeze thought he might start out as a tight end but he has since settled in at defensive end. During last year’s fall camp, Freeze highlighted both Monday and Clark as future defensive leaders at defensive end.
22. Durrell Johnson (Last year: NR)
Speaking of Johnson, the 6’4″, 225 pound JUCO transfer from ASA College will remind Liberty fans of Jessie Lemonier. It’s not just that he wears #11, he also has a propensity to get into the opponent’s backfield and wreak havoc like Lemonier.
Johnson is longer than Jessie, and he will be rotating with TreShaun Clark at a defensive end spot. We could also see both Johnson and Clark on the field in certain packages on sure passing downs as their strengths are both rushing the passer.
21. Peytton Pickett (Last year: 16)
Pickett has played in 24 games over the past two seasons with the Flames after transferring in from Trinity Valley Community College. In 2018, he was second on the team with 110 carries for 457 yards and 9 touchdowns. Last season, those numbers dipped to 24 carries for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns as he fell behind both Frankie Hickson and Joshua Mack in the pecking order at running back.
In his senior season, Pickett is the early favorite to earn the backup role behind Joshua Mack, but he will be in competition during camp with Troy Henderson and Shedro Louis. He’s shown flashes of having the potential to be an every down back for an FBS team.