As we continue to countdown to kickoff at Virginia Tech on September 3rd, i decided to rank the Most Important Flames. Admittedly, I got this idea from Virginia Tech beat-writer Andy Bitter who’s doing the same thing for the Hokies. This is a list of the players whose success is most crucial for Liberty doing well this season. It’s not a list of the best or most talented Flames, but most important. Keep that in mind as we go through this countdown.
Offensive lineman are generally the most underappreciated players on a football team. They rarely receive glory when the team does well, and often receive criticism when the offense struggles. Enter Tanner Hartman, #9 on our list of the most important Flames for 2016.
Hartman transferred to Liberty from Penn State following the 2013 season where he redshirted. After starting 23 games and 16 consecutive at right tackle, the redshirt-junior has switched to left tackle during the offseason to replace Max Sommer who started the last 25 games of his career.
How will he transition to his new position? Hartman has the potential to be the leader of the offensive line and even the entire team as evidenced by his selection as team captain. Will he embrace this role? The offensive line struggled much of 2015, but, behind Hartman, the 2016 version should be much improved. With a new quarterback for the first time in 4 years and a young group of running backs, offensive line play will be even more critical than usual, and Tanner Hartman’s job of protecting Masha’s blindside may be the most important job on the offense in 2016.