Liberty has already had a strong start to the 2024 recruiting class, the first full class under head coach Jamey Chadwell and his staff. The Class of 2024 picked up a huge addition with four-star quarterback Jayden Bradford committing to the Flames. He immediately becomes the highest rated recruit in school history, according to 247Sports Composite.
“They’ve been in contact with me since my freshman year, just because they were instate and they know coach (Justin) Gentry, and coach Korn obviously played in South Carolina, so they just kind of had that South Carolina connection,” Bradford said in an interview with 247Sports following his commitment. “They always just stayed in touch, whether it was personal or recruiting-wise. Then they got to Liberty and I was the first guy they brought up there on an OV. When I got up there, I knew I just had to be there.”
Bradford discussed his official visit to Liberty from last month exclusively with ASOR, saying the Flames were one of his front-runners at the time. The 6’0″, 185 pound prospect attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He is rated as either a four-star or three-star prospect depending on which service you look at. Bradford’s addition can help catapult this class and the Liberty program into the next level.
He has a long list of offers including several from the Power Five such as Penn State, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Louisville, Missouri, NC State, South Carolina, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Virginia Tech.
Bradford’s Group of Five offers include Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, UNLV, and UAB.
Bradford is originally from South Carolina where he attended Chapin High School before transferring to national powerhouse IMG Academy. Many had South Carolina and Penn State as the favorites for the talented quarterback, and he had announced a top three of USC, Penn State, and NC State in March before the Flames got heavily involved.
Since then, Liberty and the new coaching staff have obviously made a big impact on Bradford as the Flames have made a strong push for his services, offering him in May. Bradford took an official visit to Liberty in mid-June.
This past season at IMG, Bradford completed 71 of 91 passes (78%) for 1,071 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. He also rushed the ball 27 times for 53 yards and 2 additional scores.
“I really feel like I could be very dynamic (in Liberty’s offense),” Bradford said. “I feel like I don’t get the chance a lot of times to run as much as I would like, kind of show my athleticism as I would like to. I feel like, with that system and the way they run the triple-option offense, how they tie in the run-game into their passing game, I feel like I would just be very explosive and they could utilize my skillset very well.”
Here’s a look at how Bradford is rated by the various recruiting services:
ESPN – 3 star, #15 QB in class
Rivals – 4 star, #14 QB in class
247Sports – 3 star, #35 QB in class
On3 – 3 star, #38 QB in class
On3 industry ranking, which combines On3, 247 Sports, ESPN, and Rivals rankings, has Bradford rated as the #38 quarterback in the Class of 2024. He becomes the highest rated quarterback in this listing to commit to a Group of Five school. The next highest to commit to a G5 school is currently ranked #60.
“I like the coaches a lot, I feel I have a chance to start early and really build my own legacy there,” Bradford said in an interview with On3. “At Liberty, I feel I can make a big impact and solidify myself as a top quarterback and help shape the path of the program to where they want to be in a couple of years.”
Bradford will attempt to compete for the starting quarterback spot when he arrives on campus. The Flames had three different quarterbacks make a start during the 2022 season as Liberty looked to move on following the departure of Malik Willis who was a third round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans.
Johnathan Bennett and Kaidon Salter are vying for the starting spot in ’23, and each have eligibility to return to Lynchburg for the 2024 season. The Flames will also have Southern Miss transfer Trey Lowe back for his final season in ’24, and Reese Mooney is a true freshman at the position this fall.
“For me, that was a big tell sign that (Chadwell’s) a winner,” Bradford said. “He knows what it’s like to win, what goes into winning, the day in and day out of what you have to do, to be a winning program. I feel like it’s only going to grow. He won at Charleston Southern. He won at Coastal Carolina and made Grayson McCall a top five quarterback in the country. The development he has and the track record, I just feel like going there, I can help him win a conference championship and propel Liberty into the national spotlight. I feel like, with coach Chadwell, I can definitely do that.”
— Jayden Bradford ✪ (@JaydenBradford7) July 7, 2023