Liberty Football Projected Depth Chart For Season Opener
Aug 27, 2023 It’s almost here! Liberty will finally kickoff the 2023 football season THIS Saturday, Sept. 2 at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia against Bowling Green. The Flames have a lot to look forward to this season including the first year under head coach Jamey Chadwell as well as the first season competing in Conference USA.
Here’s a look at our projected depth chart for the Flames’ opener next week against Bowling Green: Quarterback: Johnathan Bennett (RJr. ) OR Kaidon Salter (RSo. ) Internally, Coach Chadwell has named a starter to begin the season at quarterback, but he has not announced who that starter is.
It will likely be either Bennett or Salter with Southern Miss transfer Trey Lowe also being a dark-horse. Chadwell joked that the announcement on the starter wouldn’t be made until just 15 minutes ahead of kickoff on Sept. 2.
Running Back: (A-Back) Billy Lucas (So); (B-Back) Quinton Cooley (RJr) Backup: Vaughn Blue (Fr) OR Victor Venn (R-Fr); Jaimes Jointer, Jr (RFr) All five backs will receive playing time this season with many of Liberty’s offensive sets featuring two backs. Billy Lucas has impressed throughout training camp and is competing with Vaughn Blue and Victor Venn as the starting A-Back. Lucas can also slide over to B-Back to spell Quinton Cooley at times, as well.
The true freshman Blue has been talked about by the offensive coaches since he arrived on campus and he should make an immediate impact. Venn can affect the game with his speed while James Jointer is a young back that can get touches as the B-Back as the season progresses. Wide Receiver (X): Noah Frith (RSr.
) Backup: Treon Sibley (RJr. ) OR Markel Fortenberry (R-Fr. ) Wide Receiver (Z): CJ Daniels (RSo.
) Backup: Kylen Austin (RFr. ) OR Errol Rogers, Jr. (Jr.
) Wide Receiver (H): Elijah Smoot (Sr. ) Backup: Aaron Bedgood (Sr. ) Injuries have been an issue at receiver throughout training camp.
There have been very few practices where everyone in the room was healthy and available to practice. This comes on the heels of Reese Smith and Victor Jones both being sidelined for the season due to knee injuries. Frith and Daniels are the leaders of the room with the most experience, but they have been limited during much of camp.
Redshirt-freshmen Markel Fortenberry and Kylen Austin have made strong pushes during camp and should factor into the mix for playing time. Incoming transfers Errol Rogers, Elijah Smoot, and Aaron Bedgood will all have their opportunities, as well. Left Tackle: Chase Mitchell (RJr.
) Backup: Jack Tucker (RSo. ) Left Guard: Jonathan Graham (RSr. ) Backup: Brian Hannibal (RJr.
) Center: Jordan White (RSo. ) Backup: Aaron Fenimore (Fr. ) Right Guard: X’Zauvea Gadlin (RSr.
) Backup: Harrison Hayes (Jr. ) Right Tackle: Xavior Gray (Jr. ) Backup: Austin Anderson (Fr.
) Multiple year returning starter at right guard, Brendan Schlittler, went down to injury early in camp and will miss the majority of the season. This caused the Flames to have to shuffle pieces on the line. Mitchell moved to left tackle while Gray emerged as a starter at right tackle.
Gadlin shifted from left tackle to right guard. Graham and White have been solid in their spots throughout camp. The biggest question for the team going into the season is the depth of the line.
Tucker and Fenimore should be able to step in as needed, though the coaching staff would prefer to save Fenimore’s year of eligibility and redshirt him by keeping to just four games played. A lot of that will depend on how the rest of the depth develops from guys like Brian Hannibal and Harrison Hayes. Tight End: Bentley Hanshaw (RSr.
) OR Austin Henderson (RJr. ) Back up: Bo Burklow (Fr. ) OR Billy Durocher (Jr.
) Hanshaw and Henderson have emerged as leaders for the Flames in the tight end room. They will featured prominently on the field throughout the season, especially with Coastal Carolina transfer Jacob Jenkins’ waiver to be eligible for the 2023 denied after his second transfer. Bo Burklow is a true freshman who has impressed during camp and could see some playing time this fall.
Defensive End: TJ Bush (Fr. ) Backup: Grey Carroll (RSo. ) OR Larry Jones III (Fr.
) Defensive Tackle: Kendy Charles (RJr. ) Backup: Chris Boti (So. ) Nose Guard: Bryce Dixon (So.
) Backup: Jay Hardy (RSo. ) Joker: CJ Bazile (RFr. ) Backup: Bryan Whitehead II (Fr.
) TJ Bush is a name to keep an eye on this season. As a true freshman he has pushed his way into the starting lineup and is poised to be a breakout player this season for the Flames. Grey Carroll provides great depth there at defensive end while true freshman Larry Jones could also carve out a role this year, especially with his ability to rush the passer.
Kendy Charles is not only a leader at the position but also for the team and expectations are high for him this season. Chris Boti has really pushed him hard during camp and should be a solid depth piece behind Kendy on the interior of the line. Bryce Dixon and Jay Hardy are likely to rotate frequently to keep each other fresh.
At the Joker spot, which is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker, Bazile has been working with the first team for much of training camp, and Bryan Whitehead will also receive plenty of playing time. Mike: Tyren Dupree (RSr. ) Backup: Joseph Carter (So.
) Will: Jerome Jolly, Jr. (RJr. ) Backup: Chike Nwankwo (RSr.
) OR Aakil Washington (RJr. ) Dupree is a veteran and worked with the first team since the spring. He has plenty of experience at Liberty and will be counted on to help lead the position group.
Jolly has been a reserve and starred on special teams most of his career at Liberty, but he has emerged as a likely starting linebacker this season. Chike Nwankwo and Aakil Washington provide great depth at the linebacker spot, both having significant experience. Joseph Carter, the former walk-on who received a scholarship during camp, continues to be in the mix as part of the two-deep at linebacker.
Cornerback: Kobe Singleton (RJr. ) Backup: Dexter Ricks, Jr. (R-Fr.
) Cornerback: Amarian Williams (RSo. ) Backup: Marquis Bell (So. ) OR Joshua Wiggins (RFr) Singleton and Williams will lead the Flames at corner.
JUCO transfer Marquis Bell is also expected to make a push for playing time this fall while incoming transfers Elijah Hopkins (Coastal Carolina) and Joshua Wiggins (Colorado) will also be able to fight for playing time. Dexter Ricks is a name that emerged during camp and could also factor into the rotation at corner. Star: Quinton Reese (RJr.
) Backup: Brylan Green (So. ) Safety: A’Khori Jones (So. ) Backup: Jaylon Jimmerson (RJr.
) Safety: Brandon Bishop (RSr. ) Backup: Preston Hodge (RSo. ) OR Jayden Sweeney (R-Fr.
) The names mentioned here are the ones expected to be in the mix at safety. Exactly where they lineup and the order they appear could fluctuate depending on the team’s formation as well as the opponent. Quinton Reese is clearly a leader in the room and will be on the field a large majority of the time.
Brylan Green will also be a prominent fixture in the back end of the defense. Brandon Bishop should also see plenty of playing time, as well. Kicker: Nick Brown (RSo.
) Backup: Brayden Beck (RSo. ) OR Teagen Lenderink (So. ) While nothing is official at this point, it does feel like Nick Brown has held onto his starting job as kicker despite being pushed hard by both Beck and Lenderink during camp.
Punter: Max Morgan (RSo. ) Long Snapper: Austin Turner (RSo. ) Holder: Max Morgan (RSo.
) Kick Returner: Brylan Green (So. ) OR Markel Fortenberry (RFr. ) OR Brandon Bishop (RSr.
) Punt Returner: Brylan Green (So. ) .