On Saturday, Coach Freeze and his staff welcomed approximately 80 prospects for Liberty’s first of two Junior Days this spring. Including the prospects’ families and coaches, the group totaled well over 100.
“It was exciting to have 100 or so Junior kids here, prospect kids, and their families,” Freeze said after the football team’s practice on Saturday. “(We got to) show off our beautiful place, the whole day, it’s been a good day.”
From the time Freeze was first hired as Liberty’s head coach in December through the February signing day, he and his staff spent nearly all their time recruiting, primarily for the 2019 class. They then quickly flipped the books to spring practice, working on installing their new system on both offense and defense, but at the FBS level recruiting is a year round event now.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Freeze said of recruiting the 2020 class. “We’re still behind in my opinion. We’re still trying to evaluate kids that probably should have already been evaluated. This time next year, we would have them evaluated.”
Freeze has hired his Director of Player Personnel, Ethan Johnson. Johnson and his staff will be responsible for doing player evaluations moving forward. Johnson, a 2005 Liberty grad, returns to Lynchburg after spending 3 seasons as the Director of Player Personnel at East Carolina. Prior to his time at ECU, he spent 10 years as the assistant director of player personnel at Duke.
“Ethan Johnson is doing a great job of heading that department up,” Freeze said of the player personnel group he has hired. “He was at Duke a long time, and I trust Coach Cutcliffe and them. I’ve been very impressed with him. He’s got a good 12 month plan for our guys to follow.”
Liberty’s off the field staff helped coordinate photo shoots in full pads with all 80 or so prospects that visited in just 90 minutes. They also took the prospects and their families on campus tours while also providing meals for them. Coach Freeze was able to address the entire group during the morning, as well as meeting with some individual families and an additional visit with a group of whom the coaching staff identified as the top prospects out of the group.
“I thought it was a really good turnout,” Freeze acknowledged. “We didn’t really even advertise it until probably a few weeks ago, and we’ve got another (Junior Day) March 30th and we’ve got 100 or so set to come for that one. I was very pleased. I thought our guys did a great job of understanding how we have to manage a day like today. Our off the field people did a remarkable job of managing it while we were trying to have a practice. And, of course, our University sells itself pretty much on a beautiful day like today. It’s hard to beat what they saw.”
Frequently throughout the spring, Freeze and have staff have mentioned how they continue to need to focus on recruiting to help build the depth the program needs to have to be the type of FBS team this staff is building. Freeze says he is hopeful Liberty can continue to build on the excitement level surrounding the program.
“I do think there’s an excitement,” Freeze said. “People are like, ‘Let me check this out and see what’s going on with Liberty and their desire to move to FBS and be one of the best group of 5 schools in the nation.'”