We continue our first look at the 2013 football season, by previewing what is to come for the Flames offense.  While Liberty loses several key players from the 2012 season, the offensive unit also returns a solid core to build with going into 2013. Let’s take a look at the offense by position grouping, starting with the most important player on the field. Here is Part 1, in case you missed it, where we previewed the Defense & Special Teams.


Josh Woodrum will lead the Flames in 2013.

Barring something unexpected happening, Josh Woodrum will return for his Sophomore season as the Flames’ starting QB.  Coming off of a very solid Redshirt Freshman year, Josh will be looked to as a leader for the Liberty offense.  The Flames also return former starter, turned Wildcat option Brian Hudson for his Senior season, along with third string QB Javan Shashaty.  Coming into the fold will be current commit Stephon Masha out of Austell, Georgia.  It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff utilizes the diverse skill sets of Liberty’s QB roster in 2013.  While we expect this to be Woodrum’s team, keep an eye on the transfer market as the 2012 football season comes to a close.

Running Backs

Coach Turner Gill took advantage of a good situation, and utilized a two back system for most of the 2012 season.  Junior Aldreakis Allen and Senior Sirchauncey Holloway split the vast majority of the load this year,
and both backs enjoyed success carrying the ball.  However, the departure of Sirchauncey Holloway leaves Aldreakis Allen as the Flames’ clear number one ball carrier going into 2013.  Nevertheless, we expect Gill to spread the carries around some and keep Allen fresh.

RB Aldreakis Allen returns for his Senior year (Photo courtesy of Liberty Champion)

 Running backs returning to the Flames include change of pace back Desmond Rice, as well as the talented D.J. Abnar, who showed flashes of brilliance in his Freshman year.  Fullback Nicky Fualaau returns as a redshirt Sophomore, and will continue to be a solid lead blocker in the Flames’ rushing attack.  Mix in new commits Joshua Smith and Toddrick Macon, and you have a very deep Liberty backfield for 2013 and beyond.  One thing is for sure, Aldreakis Allen will be taking over a few games in his Senior season.  How far the Flames go in 2013 could rely heavily on how far Allen can carry them.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The wide out position has to be the biggest question mark for the 2013 edition of Liberty football.  The Flames will lose their top three receivers from the 2012 season, leaving a big hole at one of the most important positions on the field.  Pat Kelly, Ryan Ferguson, and Elliott Dutra all graduate this year; so the question becomes who will step in to fill some big shoes?  Returning for 2013 will be Senior Jaquan Glover, Sophomore Darrin Peterson, Junior Gabe Henderson, and Sophomore Damarcus Faison.  Glover will no doubt be asked to use his experience to lead the young group of pass catchers as the Flames look to replace a lot of production.  The highly recruited Darrin Peterson showed us a glimpse of his talent in 2012 on a 41 yard TD pass against Concord, and Liberty will be looking to Peterson to become a consistent contributor to the Flames’ offense in 2013.

Darrin Peterson hauls in a 41 yard bomb against Concord

Former Quarterback Gabe Henderson came to Liberty with big expectations, but has struggled to find a significant role in the Flames offense.  Had Danny Rocco stayed in Lynchburg, Henderson would have likely competed to be the Flames’ starter at QB.  However, the new scheme of Coach Turner Gill demanded the move to WR/Wildcat option.  If Henderson and the coaching staff can find a way to utilize Henderson’s significant talent at WR in 2013, he could pose a nightmare for the opposition.  However, it still remains to be seen what role Gabe will play in the Flames’ offense. 

Where the Flames’ receiving depth goes from here is a bit more nebulous.  6’4″ wide out Damarcus Faison returns for his second season at Liberty, and could emerge as a significant contributor.  Verbal Commit Justin Fritts could also be given an opportunity should he develop well.  While the position of wide receiver is definitely a question mark for 2013, the Flames do have talent in their group of pass catchers.  It will just be a matter of who steps up, and who becomes the favorite target of Josh Woodrum.

At Tight End, the Flames lose a solid contributor in Justin Gunn, who caught 18 passes for 264 yards and 3 TD’s in 2012.  Justin finished the season as Liberty’s fifth leading pass catcher.  Stepping in will be frequent contributor Brandon Apon, who returns for his Senior season.  The Flames will be in good hands at the position, as Brandon looked solid in 2012, with 5 catches for 98 yards and 2 TD’s.

Offensive Line

The Flames should have a very solid group of offensive linemen returning for 2013, as well as a promising class of recruits coming in to fill the o-line for years to come.  Liberty’s line will be led by the returning All-America RG Malcolm Boyd, who was lost for the season in 2012 with a leg injury.  Other returning starters include LT Hunter Steward and RT Mitch Hanson.  The Flames lose a solid leader in Center Aaron Lundy, as well as LG Jay Weatherington.  Who steps in to these roles remains to be seen, but we do know that Liberty will have solid depth coming in.  Highly recruited OL Grant Jones will be coming off of a redshirt season, and will hopefully live up to expectations to become a solid contributor the the Flames line in 2013.  Other returning linemen include Ethan Callison, Aharown Campbell, Matt Haller, Stan Herring, Trevor Jenkins, Doug Mulhollen, and Greg Ray.  Committed recruits include Dylan Brucki, Avery Easton, Leonard Hunt, Jesse Karnezis, and Blanchard Sanwuou.  The line is definitely going to be a work in progress, and we should have a better idea what the starting line up will look like after spring football.