Fresh off Liberty’s first NFL Draft choice since 2014 when Antonio Gandy-Golden was selected in the 4th round by the Washington Redskins, it has us thinking who will be next.
The Flames haven’t had players selected in consecutive drafts since 1989-1990, but the program has risen to new heights as an FBS program under 2nd year head coach Hugh Freeze.
Liberty saw a program record 5 players either drafted or signed as undrafted free agents in 2020, as Solomon Ajayi, Bejour Wilson, Jesse Lemonier, and Elijah Benton joined AGG among players on NFL teams.
While they will head into the 2020 season without a clear draft player in Gandy-Golden, here’s a look at the Flames who could hear their names called for the 2021 draft.
Joshua Mack finished with 792 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns in his first season on the field for Liberty after transferring in from Maine as he split carries with Frankie Hickson.
As a sophomore at Maine, he led all of FCS in rushing, and he is expected to take on the bulk load of the carries in 2020 for the Flames. If he has the season he is capable of having, Mack could join Rashad Jennings as the only running backs drafted out of Liberty.
Cornerback Jimmy Faulks is one of the most experienced players on the Liberty team. He’s made 19 starts in his career, including all 13 a season ago. At 6’1″, he has the length to be an NFL CB.
The Flames will need him to step up in 2020 and be a defensive leader. If he’s able to have a breakout campaign and pull in a few interceptions, he could hear his name called next April.
Other names to watch
Johnny Huntley: Will be a second-year starter at tight end and could be the team’s leading receiver in 2020. Coach Freeze knows how to get pass catchers to the next level.
Bryce Mathews: He was a 4-star recruit out of high school and played (and started) in the SEC before becoming a grad transfer and coming to Liberty for his final go around.
Ralfs Rusins: He has quickly gone from someone who never played football to a starter at the FBS level. He’s also the top returning tackler from the 2019 defense at nose tackle! He finished 4th in tackles and all 3 who finished ahead of him inked UDFA deals (Ajayi, Benton, Lemonier).
DJ Stubbs: Someone will have to replace the 79 receptions AGG had a year ago and Stubbs should get his fair share. With a monster senior season and Freeze’s reputation with receivers, he could get a few looks.