The Flames are almost one week into training camp, with 5 of 19 scheduled practices in the books. Here’s an update on how camp is progressing after talking to Coach Gill and other selected coaches and players.

Lucas Irons out for season

Irons, the most experienced linebacker on Liberty’s roster, will miss all of the 2018 season with a lower body that occurred during the first week of training camp. He will apply for a 6th year or eligibility, and Coach Gill is confident he will receive it. “It’s going to hurt us,” Gill said of losing Irons.

On a positive note, linebacker was one of the Flames’ deepest positions with 5 guys that have game experience. A couple of redshirts from a season ago have also stood out during camp.

“Amarii Jenkins is a guy that really stands out,” linebacker coach Josh Bookbinder said. “He’s a redshirt-freshman from Ocala, Florida. He’s done a really nice job. He played safety in high school, but he has put on some with with Bill (Gillespie). I really like where he’s at.”

Solomon Ajayi, who also redshirted last year, should contribute, alongside David King, Kedrick Bradley, Remington Green, and Brandon Tillmon.

Aaron Wilkins named SPUR coach

For the past several seasons, Liberty has utilized a SPUR position, a hybid linebacker-safety spot on the defense, primarily used to get a faster athlete on the field that could play coverage as well as help stop the run. With the NCAA approving an additional assistant coach spot for football teams, Aaron Wilkins was promoted to an assistant coach for the defensive line in January. On Wednesday, Coach Gill announced Wilkins will take over the handling of the SPUR position.

Wilkins has been a part of Liberty’s staff since 2015, joining as the program’s defensive quality control before being promoted to an assistant coach of the defensive line a few months ago. Listed on the roster at the SPUR position is Ceneca Espinoza, Jr., Aaron Pierre, Marcellous Harris, and Lionell Johnson. Espinoza started the last 2 games of 2017 at SPUR. Wilkins has some experience at the position having played and coached the position.

In this new position, Wilkins will also handle the coaching of the nickel, a position that was previously coached by cornerbacks coach Marshall Roberts.

It was also announced Wednesday that Defensive Coordinator Robert Wimberly will also assume the role of Associate Head Coach, replacing Ron Brown who held the title prior to his departure to Nebraska this summer.

Other notes

  • Aaron Pierre has turned heads so far during camp as he’s already picked off 3 passes. He is competing for playing time at the SPUR after redshirting in 2017 during his true freshman campaign.
  • With the team’s first scrimmage coming up on Thursday, Coach Gill will be looking to see who will be able to earn more reps as camp progresses.

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