Behind first year head coach Jamey Chadwell’s triple-option spread based attack, Liberty led the nation in rushing with 293.3 yards gained per game in 2023. The Flames return nearly everyone in its running back room, including the team’s second leading rusher in quarterback Kaidon Salter, as they look to continue that success in 2024.

Aaron Bedgood is the only running back that had a significant role in 2023 that is unlikely to return this fall. The graduate student who transferred to Liberty last summer from Coastal Carolina had his waiver for an additional year of eligibility denied by the NCAA. He is appealing that decision, but the Flames are moving forward as if Bedgood will not be in the mix this season.

Originally beginning his time as a slot receiver and kick returner, Bedgood had to transition to running back when Vaughn Blue went down to injury early in the season. Bedgood ended up averaging 9.5 yards per carry as he rushed for 552 yards on the season.

Leading the running back room once again will be Quinton Cooley. Last year’s CUSA Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. The bowling ball was hard to bring down and always fell forward, rarely losing yardage on his carries.

Billy Lucas was 1B to Cooley’s 1A for much of last season even though he fought through injuries throughout the year. He finished the season with 597 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns while rushing for 5.2 yards per carry. He was a good change of pace back to help limit the wear and tear on Cooley during the season. Expect to see that trend continue, perhaps even at a greater rate, in 2024.

It won’t be just Lucas supplementing Cooley out of the backfield, as Liberty has other talented weapons at the position. Vaughn Blue exploded onto the scene as a true freshman last year before suffering an injury that nearly cost him the entire season in a game at Buffalo in September. He returned late in the season in a significantly reduced role than what he saw early in the year. Blue is able to attack defense’s on the perimeter and with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. The redshirt-freshman had 116 rushing yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry, to go along with 4 receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown in six games played.

James Jointer, Jr. and Victor Venn add to the depth and competition at the position. Jointer is in Cooley’s mode, a bigger back that can push defenders in between the tackles. Venn, a transfer from Colorado, is very explosive and one of the fastest players on the team. In 2023, Jointer rushed for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per carry while Venn carried the ball 5 times for 25 yards to go along with 2 receptions for 10 yards and a touchdown.

Talented true freshman Caden Williams joined the team for spring practice and showcased his ability. In a perfect world, Liberty will be able to redshirt him, but he is capable and available if needed. In an offense that typically utilizes two running backs on the field at all times, injuries are likely to happen, so the more depth the team can have the better.

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Offensive Line
Tight Ends