Rashad Jennings or Eric Green? Mike Brown or Antonio Gandy-Golden? Old school or new school?
Debates over who is the greatest Liberty football player can vary, and we have done our best to identify the best of the best, ranking the greatest players in school history.
With thousands of football players to suit up for the Flames over the years, just making this list is a huge honor, but who will be in the coveted top spot? Today, we’ve reached the top 10.
10. Jacob Hagen, S, 2011-14
The beginning of Hagen’s career was overshadowed by the electric play of Kevin Fogg and Walt Aikens, but once they were out of the program and Hagen had matured, everyone began to notice how good of a player he actually was.
His senior campaign, in 2014, is arguably the most impressive single season any defensive back has ever had in a Liberty uniform. As a safety, he led the team with 108 tackles and 8 interceptions that year as he was named a first-team all-american and the defensive player of the year in Virginia.
As a junior, Hagen began to make a name for himself, as he was named third-team all-american and first-team all-state. He would go on to a brief NFL career as he was on the preseason rosters for the Rams and Steelers from 2015-2017.
9. Dre Barnes, RB, 2001-04
Barnes is the second of the three-headed monster from the early 2000s to make the list. He still owns the Liberty career record with 4,035 yards, and also holds two of the three single seasons in school history with at least 1,300 rushing yards in a season. He was the career leader in all-purpose yards until being surpassed by Frankie Hickson just a few months ago.
8. Josh Woodrum, QB, 2012-15
Before Buckshot, there was Josh Woodrum. He seized control of the starting spot early in his redshirt-freshman campaign and never looked back. He’s 2nd in passing yards (10,266), total offense (10,690), total touchdowns (77), and completion percentage (63.9%) while ranking in the top 5 in touchdown passes (No. 3, 61) and passing efficiency (No. 3, 140.9). Also an undrafted free agent, Woodrum has spent the past 4 seasons bouncing around the NFL.
7. Buckshot Calvert, QB, 2016-19
Liberty has had an impressive string of quarterback play from 2005-2019, culminating with the GOAT. Buckshot Calvert entered the program amid much fan fare and he lived up to it. He holds career records in passing yards, touchdown passes, as well as single season records in the same categories. His stat-line of 44-of-60 passing for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns in Liberty’s win over Baylor helped put himself and the Flames on the map as the program ascended to the FBS ranks.
6. Mickey Paige, LB, 1985-88
Paige was named to Liberty’s Hall of Fame in 2019. He was Liberty’s first NCAA Division I football All-American. He finished his four-year career as a Flame with 427 career tackles, which ranks second in school history. Paige and Sanders are the only two players in program history with 400 or more career tackles.
In addition to his All-American selections in 1987 and 1988, Paige was named first-team all-state in 1987. Following his playing days at Liberty, he played for the Washington Commandos of the Arena Football League for two seasons.
5. Wayne Haddix, DB, 1983-86
Haddix came out of nowhere in the early 80s to become one of the best defensive players in school history. In addition to his ability as a cornerback, Haddix was also a standout returner. He led the Flames in punt returns in three of his four seasons in Lynchburg and still holds the program’s single game punt return record.
Haddix was the first Liberty player to receive an invitation to the Senior Bowl and just the second to participate in the Blue-Gray game. He was named first-team all-state during his senior season and elected to the Liberty Hall of Fame in 2014.
His career extended to the NFL where he is the first alumnus in program history to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl after he led the NFL with interceptions when playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
4. Mike Brown, QB/WR, 2008-11
Brown checked in at No. 3 of on our list of best quarterbacks in Liberty history, and he could have been included as one of the five best wide receivers, returners, and even running backs, as well. His versatility and productivity at each position, pushes up ahead of Woodrum and Calvert on this list despite ranking behind them on the QB list.
He began his career at any position he could get his hands on the ball, primarily at wide receiver and also as a returner. Brown then transitioned to the starting quarterback for the remainder of his career. He has the most rushing touchdowns by a non-running back in school history with 29 and ranks 6th including running backs in the category. Brown holds school records in passing efficiency (150.4) and completion percentage (65.0%) while ranking in the top 5 in total touchdowns, scoring excluding kickers, and total offense. After signing as an undrafted free agent to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012, he spent almost 4 seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver.
3. Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, 2016-19
Liberty’s most recent draft pick, Gandy-Golden rewrote the record book for wide receivers over the past four seasons. He’s the only Liberty receiver to finish with three 1,000 yard receiving seasons, doing so in each of his final three seasons. He’s also the school leader with 17 100-yard receiving games.
Not to mention, he’s the only receiver on the list to put up these type of numbers against primarily FBS competition, as Liberty made the move to football’s highest level prior to his junior season.
2. Eric Green, TE, 1985-89
Green was academically ineligible his senior season of high school and ended up walking on at Liberty before earning a scholarship in year two. His first couple seasons in Lynchburg were underwhelming, but when former NFL head coach Sam Rutigliano came took over as the Flames’ head coach, Green flourished.
He became Liberty’s first NCAA Division I Associated Press football All-American as he earned 2nd team honors following a senior season with 62 catches for 905 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was the first player in program history to record double digit touchdown receptions in a season and is still tied for the 3rd most in a single season in school history. His 5 career 100-yard receiving games are the most of any tight end in school history.
Green caught the game winning touchdown to help lift Liberty over Eastern Michigan, 25-24, the program’s first ever win over an FBS school. Following his senior season, in addition to being an All-American he was also named to the VaSID all-state first team and competed in both the Hula Bowl and the Senior Bowl.
He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round, the 21st overall pick, Liberty’s first player ever chosen in the first round. Green was named AFC Rookie of the Year in 1990 and was twice selected to the Pro Bowl. He finished a 10 year professional career with 362 receptions, 4,390 receiving yards, and 36 touchdowns.
Green was selected to the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015 and has had his jersey retired.
1. Rashad Jennings, RB, 2006-08
Jennings is the unquestioned best running back in school history, and he gets the nod as the greatest football player in school history.
Playing in just three seasons, he ranks #3 in career rushing yards and #1 in career rushing touchdowns. His 1,500 rushing yards in 2008 are still the most in school history.
He then went on to succeed in the NFL, playing 7 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, and New York Giants. Oh, and he’s also sprinkled in a Dancing with the Stars title and written numerous books. Jennings will have his jersey retired in September.