UNC Football: Liberty Scouting Report


The Tar Heels are expected to stay hot from their strong 6-1 finish last year and carry it over to their home opener against the Liberty Flames.   In addition to that being a witty play on words, it is also true.  Momentum and confidence will be crucial, especially early in the season, for this young North Carolina team still trying to establish their identity.

The Liberty Flames are coming off of an 8-4 season, and are poised to make a Big South Conference championship run.  They have game experience, athleticism, and loads of potential on both sides of the ball.

With a tough schedule early on, however, the Flames will need their respective playmakers and leaders to emerge early.  Fortunately for Liberty, they have many worthy candidates for these roles.


Who? Josh Woodrum

Expected Role- Inherent Leader

The 6’3”, 210-pound Liberty quarterback is an unquestioned leader of this team.  Starting all twelve games in the 2013 season, the Red-Shirt Junior is vocal, experienced, and has a strong arm.  He finished the 2013 season with 2,581 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Although not well-known for his athleticism, the Heels shouldn’t be caught off-guard if the big man decides to scramble when no other options are available.  Woodrum will undertake the most responsibility for scoring he has ever had to in any of his previous three seasons, and will need to be at the top of his game to keep the chains moving against the Tar Heel defense.


Who? Darrin Peterson, Gabe Henderson

Expected Role- Offensive Playmakers (focal point of offense)

Before the 2013 season, Liberty receivers were, for the most part, untested.  And despite their lacking game experience, they fared pretty well.  Now, they are expected to be dominant.

Darrin “Petey” Peterson finished the 2013 season with 825 yards and 7 touchdowns.  The junior may be the most dangerous player on the offensive side of the ball as he can not only go up and get balls, but also bring them down and make plays after the catch.  He is Liberty’s deep threat.

Senior Gabe Henderson also looks to provide relief for Woodrum with his playmaking ability.  Henderson finished the 2013 season with 641 yards and 3 touchdowns.  As a complement to Peterson, Henderson is most effective running short to intermediate routes and making defenders miss in the open field after the catch.

Running Backs

Who? DJ Abnar

Expected Role– Supplemental Piece

Desmond Rice, the most productive running back from a year ago for the Flames, is gone, and took his 16 touchdowns and 1088 yards of total offense with him.

DJ Abnar, expected to start for the Flames, will have huge shoes to fill as he ran for 411 yards in the 2013 season.  Even with Abnar, game experience for the Liberty backfield is at a premium.  Current second string running back, Austin Kaigler, only played in four games last year.

It is safe to say that most Liberty offense productivity will be made through the air this upcoming season.


Who? Nick Sigmon

Expected Role- Defensive leader

The experienced Liberty defense will be headed by Senior Nick Sigmon.  Sigmon finished the 2013 season with a total of 62 tackles and showed his ability of making plays in the backfield as he caused a total of 23 yards lost.

This will be the first summer when Sigmon has been 100% healthy, as he has always battled nagging injuries in his previous three years.  Sigmon is poised to put up some of the best numbers of his career, and lead possibly the strongest defense Liberty has ever had.

Defensive Linemen

Who? Dominique Davis

Expected Role- Intimidator

For a defense to be effective, the defensive line needs to be able to impose its will.  For the defensive line to be effective, defensive ends need to be relentless.  Senior defensive end, Dominique Davis, fits the part.

Get to know the Flames with  Lynchburg News & Advance beat reporter Chris Lang

Although he didn’t play very much last season, Davis’ 6’5”, 240-pound stature will help compensate for his inexperience.  He will be expected to put pressure on the opposing quarterback, and allow the secondary to make plays.

Defensive Secondary

Who? Jacob Hagen

Expected Role- Defensive Playmaker

For a defense to be dominant, they have to cause turnovers.  As a whole, the Liberty defense caused 19 interceptions last year.  Yes, you read that correctly, 19.  Senior free safety Jacob Hagen contributed six interceptions last season.

This talented secondary is the perfect complement to the Liberty defensive line.

Liberty has the opportunity to be top-dog in the Big South.  Even with Liberty’s tremendous potential, the Flames will not quite be ready enough to char the hot Tar Heels week one.