As the Malik Willis era comes to a close in Lynchburg, the spotlight suddenly starts to turn toward the other quarterbacks on the Mountain. There is prevalent question on the mind of Liberty football fans: with Willis gone, what are we? What can we be? While not the big names that Malik Willis is, the options at the disposal of coach Freeze are more than capable of taking this offense and continuing the success it has had in recent years.
Let’s take a deeper look at the top four candidates to replace Willis entering spring practice.
Jonathan Bennett is the veteran Flame of the foursome. He has been on the roster for the longest and has taken the most game snaps for the team. Bennett has appeared in 14 games in his collegiate career, attempting 43 passes and completing 21. Bennett enters the off season as the likely favorite to take over passing duties for the upcoming season as he has been with the team for the longest and is likely the most familiar with the offense and skill players. Bennett was a three-star player coming out of high school in 2019 via 247sports, excelling as a dual threat quarterback. His experience and familiarity with Freeze should give him an edge in competing for the number one spot.
Charlie Brewer is a name some college football fans are likely familiar with. He was a three-star pro style quarterback out of high school in the 2017 class and committed to Baylor. He played in 44 games there in four years before transferring to Utah. He started three games with the Utes before entering the transfer portal and eventually committing to Liberty for his last year of eligibility. Brewer has the most experience playing college football out of the challengers, having quite a few starts under his belt for two major college football programs. Brewer knows what it takes to be a starting quarterback at the highest level, and he will take that experience with him to the practice field as he works to earn his last shot before he runs out of eligibility.
Kaidon Salter is very exciting in terms of figuring out what he is at this level. Coming out of high school in 2021 he was a four-star recruit and top 20 quarterback in the class according to 247sports. He had a very short-lived stint at Tennessee before some off the field issues caused him to reevaluate and transfer to Liberty. Salter got a bit of play in a blowout against UMass in 2021 in which he threw for 47 yards on three attempts and rushed for a touchdown. In a small sample size, Salter has shown that he could have the talent to be a very exciting player for the Flames. It is less of a question of if, but when he will take the reins for this team. Could it be this season he seizes the spot by the neck?
Nate Hampton catches the eye when he takes the field. At 6’6 235 pounds, he truly stands out and has a certain presence and confidence about him. He was a three-star quarterback in the 2021 high school class and will be a true sophomore in the upcoming school year but a redshirt-freshman on the football team. He has a large frame and seems to really have some arm strength to make throws all over the field. Hampton seems to be the underdog of the anticipated QB competition this upcoming offseason. He’s young and has a lot of time to become whatever he will become as he continues his college career.
It’s looking to be an exciting offseason for the Flames. As Freeze learns how to navigate a post-Malik world, these four players are hungry to show that they have what it takes to get the job done for Liberty. The bar for success has been raised by Willis’ remarkable Liberty career, and now we pan to these young men to see which of them can get their shot to put their stamp on the legacy of Liberty Flames football.