Entering last season, linebacker was the biggest question mark for the Flames. Liberty was replacing departing seniors Solomon Ajayi and Brandon Tillmon. To help offset their losses, the Flames’ brought in Charlotte grad transfer Anthony Butler last season. Butler did not disappoint as he finished second on the team with 67 tackles.
This spring, Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze has continued to highlight linebacker as a position where the Flames still need to develop. Several newcomers, including some talented freshmen, have joined the program to help boost Liberty’s prospects at the position.
Butler has elected to forego his extra year of eligibility COVID offered to pursue a professional football career. To help ease his loss, the Flames have brought in ULM grad transfer Rashaad Harding. He sat out the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, and in 2019 he finished with 60 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 2 PBUs. Harding provides a veteran in the room as Liberty has plenty of experienced underclassmen at linebacker.
Harding figures to be in the running this fall to be the starter at Mike, while Aaron Pierre returns at Will. Pierre saw limited playing time during his first three seasons at Liberty, but he became a starter and team leader in 2020. Pierre finished last season third on the team in tackles while starting 9 games.
Behind Harding and Pierre, a couple of true freshmen will be pushing for immediate playing time. Kaci Seegars and Ahmad Walker signed with Liberty in December and joined the team for spring workouts. The coaching staff has been raving about their ability most of the spring. Seegars was originally committed to Texas A&M, but flipped to Liberty just prior to the December signing period. The 6’3″, 210 pound prospect was a three-star prospect out of high school and had several Power Five offers. Walker, a 6’0″, 220 pound product of Warner Robins, Georgia, has also shown some promise and could see playing time as a true freshman.
“Kaci Seegars flashes every practice,” Freeze said of his freshman. “Ahmad Walker is going to be a heck of a football player. I think Kaci Seegars is going to be a handful. He plays with a high motor. I think he’s going to be really good.”
Tyren Dupree served as a reserve last season, playing in 11 games and starting 1. He finished with 26 tackles and provides some stability for the Flames at the position. Amarii Jenkins returns after missing all of 2020 due to an injury. In 2019, his redshirt-sophomore season, Jenkins saw playing time in all 13 games finishing with 27 tackles.
Former walk-on Carl Poole proved to be a valuable backup to Butler at the Mike in 2020. He ended up starting 2 games and playing in 10 a season ago, finishing with 23 tackles. Jerome Jolly and Micah Glaize have both moved from safety to the linebacker position. Each have shown flashes early in their career at safety, and once they get adapted to the new position could provide additional depth.
Some injuries have hampered the position during the spring as Dupree, Jenkins, and Poole were all out of spring practice due to injuries and recovering from surgery. This allowed the newcomers and younger players plenty of reps.
“The jury is still out as far as the quality,” Freeze said of his linebackers. “I don’t know that we’re exactly where we need to be quality wise. Pierre has become kind of the leader of that room. We’re going to be young, but I’m excited about those young kids for sure. I say young, we’re young right now. We’ve got several kids out with surgeries and different things, but those young ones I hope can play roles for us.”