For the first time since the 2021 season, Liberty is entering a summer where it knows who its starting quarterback will be.

Kaidon Salter took control of the Flames’ QB room last year, having a record making campaign where he rushed for over 1,000 yards while throwing for nearly 3,000 with a total of 44 touchdowns. His explosive playmaking ability allowed the team to have success it has never before seen on the gridiron.

Salter flirted with the transfer portal following the Fiesta Bowl but decided to remain in Lynchburg with the Flames. The biggest question for Salter entering 2024 is how dedicated is he to perfecting his craft to become the best quarterback he can be.

He now enters a second year in the system under head coach Jamey Chadwell and Co-Offensive Coordinator and QB Coach WIlly Korn and showed a significant step forward this past spring in his mastery of the offense. Now, he doesn’t have to think about what he’s going to do, he can just react and make plays on the field.

With as good as he was in 2023, it’s hard to believe there could be significant improvement for Salter entering 2024. However, during the spring, everyone close to the program pointed to the progress the quarterback had made since the conclusion of last season and how he is poised to take another step forward this fall. If that is truly the case, Liberty will likely flirt with winning another CUSA Championship and could even be in contention for one of the 12 College Football Playoff spots that will be awarded to the highest ranked Group of Five Conference Champion.

Behind Salter is where the questions ramp up at the quarterback spot. Johnathan Bennett, who has spent the past few seasons as the team’s second team quarterback, is now in Charleston where he is competing for the starting spot at the Citadel. Trey Lowe was also in the QB room last year after transferring from Southern Miss, but he is now a grad assistant working with the team.

Nate Hampton returns. Having come in to the program at the same time as Salter, Hampton is one of the veterans in the room now. He should know the system and be a competent backup should the need arise.

The Liberty coaching staff was also aggressive in looking for additional depth at the position. Appalachian State quarterback Ryan Burger joined the program prior to the start of spring practice. He began the 2023 season as App’s starting quarterback before suffering a hand injury in the first half of the first game that caused him to miss the remainder of the season. Burger played in just two games while at App State, starting the 2023 opener, completing 11 of 17 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown. He also played 26 snaps against Robert Morris as a true freshman in 2022.

After receiving a medical redshirt, Burger has four years of eligibility remaining. He is originally from Myrtle Beach where he threw for 6,474 yards and 70 touchdowns while completing 65% of his passes in three seasons of varsity football in high school. At the end of the spring, Burger is probably odds-on favorite to be Salter’s backup and the second string quarterback this fall for the Flames.

The Flames also brought in the highest rated quarterback prospect to ever sign with the program out of high school in Jayden Bradford. The 6’0″, 185 pound prospect comes to Liberty from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He had 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. Over the last two years at IMG Academy, while playing with and against some of the top high school competition in the country, Bradford completed 68% of his 228 passes for 2,504 yards, 37 touchdowns, and just 2 interceptions. He also had 65 rushes for 186 yards and 2 more scores while sporting an 18-1 record as the starting quarterback.

In a perfect world, Liberty will be able to redshirt Bradford in 2024, allowing him the year to develop, learn the system, and adjust to the college game. Coach Korn spoke highly of Bradford’s ability to learn the playbook during the spring.

Miles McEachin is also in the quarterback room, joining the team as a walk-on prior to spring practice. Wearing jersey #25, he doesn’t look like a quarterback on the field but more like a running back. He turned heads with his long run in the spring game last month and looks like a run-first type quarterback. It will be interesting to see how he develops.

Previous Roster Reviews:

Defensive Line
Special Teams
Wide Receivers
Offensive Line
Tight Ends
Running Backs