Liberty University is set for a new era as the football team enters its inaugural season at the FBS level. And the changes can already be seen on the eve of preseason practice.
As stadium expansion continues on campus, the Flames also have to deal with an expanded roster as head coach Turner Gill deals with the largest number of new faces entering his seventh season at the helm.
“There’s just a lot of things that, not only the football staff but our whole entire athletic department really got included with the newcomers coming here. So there were a few things that have been done here a little differently that have ever been done before,” Gill said. “And the maturity. If I had to say the one word that maybe describes the new guys.”
Senior defensive lineman Juwan Wells says getting players from high school and JUCO programs can help the team tremendously.
“Not only just give us depth but give us a better chance to compete with one another,” Wells said. “So that’s the biggest thing.”
Another major change in the move from FCS to the FBS level is the higher level of competition, with UVA and Auburn among the Flames’ opponents this season.
“That’s what we like. We want to see the competition. We want to bring as much competition into our schedule as we can. We’re ready to compete with whoever and whenever,” junior quarterback Stephen Calvert said. “That’s our mindset and that’s the mindset I think the whole team has to have coming into the season.”
Redshirt senior linebacker David King agrees.
“I think playing against more FBS teams has definitely lit a fire under everybody and you got to come ready to work every day and if you don’t,” King said. “If you don’t prepare, it could be a long season. But if you come in ready to work, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The first game of the FBS era for Liberty is set for September 1 against Old Dominion. The first practice of fall camp is set for Saturday morning.