Ever since Liberty made the move to the ranks of an FBS Independent, one of the big questions has been – who are Liberty’s rivals? There are several teams that could fit into that category, and maybe the best way is to track who Liberty is recruiting against.
This can identify potential rivals as well as point to what Liberty’s program could look like in the future with multiple FBS recruiting classes piled on top of each other. If the Flames are consistently recruiting against Power Five opponents, then it makes sense that the program could rise to that level. But if Liberty is recruiting against mainly the FCS upper tier and worst teams in the FBS, then that’s likely the team Liberty will have on the field.
We could compare the list of all the prospects Liberty has offered the past couple of seasons and compare those to other offers those prospects have received, but that would take too much time and it’s probably not very accurate. On the offer list, there are certainly some prospects that Liberty is no longer actively recruiting and there are others at the other end of the spectrum that have zero interest in the Flames.
To get a true gauge of who the Flames are actively recruiting against, its better to compare who makes Liberty’s top prospects finalists list. So, we have compiled all 2021 and 2022 prospects that have released a finalist list of a top 12, top 10, top 8, etc. with Liberty included, and tabulated who has made those finalists lists with the Flames.
Here is whose name showed up most frequently on prospects’ finalists lists alongside Liberty:
- Coastal Carolina (18)
- Appalachian State and Old Dominion (15)
- East Carolina (11)
- Charlotte (10)
Those five programs have stood out among the rest of the FBS over the past two recruiting cycles. Liberty is frequently recruiting against these. Future games are also scheduled against these teams. Liberty has a future series scheduled with Coastal Carolina (2023, 2024, 2027-29) and Appalachian State (2024, 2025). The Flames also have an ongoing series with Old Dominion (2021-2023), but there are currently no games scheduled with East Carolina or Charlotte.
Here’s a look at the next group of schools that Liberty frequently recruits against:
- Army, Georgia State (9)
- Florida Atlantic, Indiana, James Madison, Pitt, Richmond, Temple (8)
- Buffalo, FIU, Kansas, Marshall, Middle Tennessee (7)
- Air Force, Georgia Southern, Howard (6)
- Maryland, Navy, Wake Forest, West Virginia (5)
Comparing this to last year’s numbers, Coastal, ODU, and Appalachian State continue to be the top three schools Liberty recruits against while East Carolina remains in the top five. Charlotte has risen significantly, as they ranked tied for ninth a year ago. Army and Temple have dropped out of the top five while James Madison has only appeared in a finalists list twice for class of 2022 prospects so far compared to six times for 2021 prospects.