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, our list discusses Nos. 20 through 11.
20. Pat Nelson, WR, 1988-91
Taking the 20th spot is Pat Nelson. Playing at Liberty from 1988-91, Nelson ranks 4th in career receptions, 5th in career receiving yards. Nelson also has the most consecutive 100-yard receiving games in school history with 5 and is 4th on the career list with 9 total 100-yard receiving games. Nelson ranks 5th on our all-time WRs list.
19. Aaron DeBerry, DL, 2000-03
The 19th spot on our all-time list belongs to Aaron DeBerry. DeBerry was a two-time first-team All-Big South selection, as he finished his Liberty career the leader with 22 career sacks and 45 tackles for loss. He’s currently 2nd on the sacks list, but still maintains his lead in career TFLs and his single game mark of 4 sacks against Charleston Southern in 2003 remains a single game program record. We ranked him 2nd on our list of the best DL in Liberty football history.
18. Kelvin Edwards, WR, 1982-85
Coming in at number 18 in WR Kelvin Edwards. Also ranked 4th on our top 5 WRs list, Edwards was one of the first stars to play for Liberty. Edwards, Darrin Peterson, and Antonio Gandy-Golden are the only receivers in school history to lead the team in receiving for 3 seasons. Edwards did so in 1982, 1983, and 1985. He’s 4th on Liberty’s career receiving list, and the numbers he put up are even more impressive when considering he played during a time when teams were much more run dominant than now.
Edwards went on to a productive NFL career where he played for the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys. He was part of Liberty’s Inaugural Hall of Fame Class in 2009 and had his jersey retired in 2019.
17. Jesse Riley, LB, 1995-98
LB Jesse Riley is 17th on our list. Jesse Riley became Liberty’s first Associated Press first-team All-American in 1998, and it was one of several All-American honors for the former Liberty football star. In 1996, he was named an honorable mention All-American and in 1997 and 1998 he was named second-team All-American by Football Gazette.
Additionally, Riley was named first-team all-state in 1998, and he ranks 3rd time all-time in career tackles at Liberty with 394 after leading the team in tackles in both 1997 and 1998. Riley was also named the I-AA Independent Defensive Player of the year in 1998.
16. Jonathan Burgess, OL, 2013-15
OL Jonathan Burgess is number 16. Transferring from Virginia State, Burgess started his career as a Flame as a walk-on. Burgess would go on to finish his career at Liberty with multiple all-conference selections and All-American honors.
15. Darrin Peterson, WR, 2012-15
Coming in at #15 in Darrin Peterson. Known as “Petey,” he ranks 3rd on our all-time WRs list as well. Petey is one of only two Liberty receivers to lead the team in receiving for three consecutive seasons (the other one checks in at No. 1 on this list). Peterson had three straight seasons with at least 800 receiving yards and had a monstrous junior campaign with 1,379 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those two numbers rank 2nd for single season marks in school history.
His career marks of 215 receptions, 3,170 yards, and 27 touchdowns are 2nd in school history, ranking just behind one person on each of those lists.
14. John Sanders, LB, 1979-82
14th place belongs to LB John Sanders. Second on our all-time LBs list, Sanders is the only player in Liberty history with more than 500 career tackles, as he ranks first in school history with 550. He led the team in tackles in 3 seasons and finished with 100 or more tackles all four seasons he took the gridiron, the only player to do so in school history.
Sanders was named the first Kodak All-American at Liberty in the college division in 1982, as he was named to the first-team All-American team. Sanders was named to Liberty’s Hall of Fame in 2012.
He helped Liberty post a combined 27-13-2 record during his career with three seasons of seven or more victories including the 1979 team which finished 9-1-1.
13. Chima Uzowihe, DL, 2012-15
Coming in at number 13, and number 1 on our all-time DL list, is Chima Uzowihe. Uzowihe passed DeBerry as the program’s career sack leader with 25. He’s also 2nd with 44 career tackles for loss. Uzowihe’s blocked field goal on the final play against #1 Coastal Carolina in the 2014 season finale pushed the Flames to its first, and only, FCS playoff appearance.
Uzowihe was named a 2nd-team All-American in 2015 and named first-team all-state and second-team all-state during his career. He’s also the only Liberty player to ever be named the Big South Defensive Player of the Year, doing so in 2015.
12. Dontae Duff, OL, 2016-19
OL Dontae Duff takes the 12th spot. The Texas native compiled numerous honors as an OL for the Flames. Besides being named all-conference multiple times, he was also named to the VaSID All-State team multiple times. In Liberty’s first season as an FBS member, Duff was named to Phil Steele’s all-Independent team.
11. Chris Summers, WR, 2008-11
The 11th spot goes to Chris Summers. Ranked 2nd on our all-time WRs list, Summers entered Liberty as one of the highest rated recruits Liberty had ever had by the time he arrived on campus. He originally committed to Louisville, but had a change of heart and landed in Lynchburg under former head coach Danny Rocco.
He would go on to have one of the more outstanding careers of any Liberty receiver, ranking 3rd on the school’s career list for receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Summers also had the athletic ability to play basketball at the collegiate level, suiting up for the Flames for one season.