On a bright and sunny spring day here in Lynchburg, Virginia, the Liberty Flames football team lined up on the field for a full contact practice in front of fans for the first time, since the 2020 season.
Majority of the practice contained live scrimmage plays, which is a little out of the norm for Coach Hugh Freeze practices. The scrimmaging started out with the first team on the field, giving way for an emphatic start to the practice. Running back Josh Mack weaved through the gaps, and ran for a 58-yard touchdown run, to cap the first score of the day.
Freshmen Turning Heads
A notable new name that managed to make plays on the field was, true freshman linebacker, Ahmad Walker. He made appearances with the first-team players throughout the practice. Some freshmen were given the opportunity to showcase what they could do on the field, at positions that have starters from 2020 returning.
“When you sit down and you evaluate the fact we have pretty much everyone returning, that played significant snaps for us last year,” Coach Freeze said in a post practice press conference. “We had some success with those kids, and now it’s about making us deeper and better, so the majority of snaps this spring have gone to those younger kids that we need to develop.”
With that said, true freshman linebacker, Kaci Seegars, managed to make his play standout throughout the scrimmage. Seegars garnered a sack and a pass breakup in two eye-popping plays. Seegars is one of the names that Coach Freeze likes and he thinks he can help create depth at a young position group on the team.
Upperclassmen Newcomers Pop Off
As the scrimmage went on, recent Utah transfer running back, TJ Green, was getting more snaps deeper into practice. He totaled six carries for 81 yards and a touchdown. Most notably, he exploded for a 70-yard touchdown, after making impressive cuts to find the holes.
Washington State transfer linebacker Skyler Thomas was making key plays on the defensive side, showcasing his high motor presence. Throughout the practice, the fifth-year senior was able to show off his knowledge of the game, by knowing when he needed to step in to make the stop, and when to back off to prevent blown coverage. In the post practice press conference, Thomas made note, he is getting reps at all the safety positions, so he can be made “very versatile” for the Flames going forward.
Returning redshirt-junior quarterback Malik Willis started off the scrimmage throwing with the first team, but only played in about two other drives, which is expected, as he is the returning starter from 2020. This gave younger quarterbacks, Will Bowers, Jonathan Bennett, Sean Brown and Nate Hampton to get some reps. The redshirt-freshman, Bennett, managed to make some plays, as he will look to take over the backup quarterback position, now that quarterback Chris Ferguson is gone.
Warming Up The Leg
Redshirt-freshman kicker Jason Stricker got opportunities during the scrimmage to kick field goals. He ended up being three for three on the day with his longest being a 31-yard kick. Despite the reps, expect returning senior starting kicker Alex Barbir to be the starter going into the 2021 season.
Redshirt-senior tight end Johnny Huntley went down with an apparent injury. It is unknown at the time what he injured, but it didn’t seem too serious, after he walked off the field on his own.