Liberty football coach Hugh Freeze will not fly with the team for the Flames’ second road game of the season and will take a private jet from Lynchburg to El Paso, Texas, for Saturday’s contest at New Mexico State.
However, unlike the Sept. 7 road opener at Louisiana, Freeze will fly out Friday at the same time as the team. The 50-year-old flew to Lafayette and returned to Lynchburg the day of that game.
“The school’s gracious enough. I don’t think I can sit straight up for four hours, so we’re going to fly private again,” Freeze said after Thursday’s practice. “I don’t like that; I wish I was with the team, but I do think it’s best, or I could get set back.”
Freeze continues to recover from Aug. 16 back surgery for a staph infection. He coached all three practices throughout the week and was told by doctors to leave Tuesday’s practice early to prevent a setback in his recovery.
Freeze has coached from a raised podium, which he has nicknamed the “NASCAR pit box,” during the past three home games at Williams Stadium. New Mexico State approved Liberty to bring a smaller version of the raised podium to use on the visitors’ sideline Saturday.
“I don’t think I’m ready to get out of the way [on the sidelines],” Freeze said.
Pair of cornerbacks considered day-to-day
Cornerbacks Bejour Wilson and Emanuel Dabney were listed as day-to-day by Freeze following Thursday’s practice.
Both participated in the Thursday morning practice.
Wilson has missed the past two games after suffering a foot sprain in the fourth quarter of the Sept. 14 victory over Buffalo, and Dabney suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter the following week against Hampton.
“We anticipate them playing,” Freeze said. “They practiced today. How many snaps? Who knows.”
The return of those cornerbacks would give the Flames six to rotate against the pass-happy Aggies. Kei’Trel Clark and Jimmy Faulks are the projected starters, with Isaiah Avery and Chris Megginson serving as backups.
Gandy-Golden savors first record, eyes more
Antonio Gandy-Golden didn’t do his customary flip of the football to a nearby official after his first-quarter touchdown this past weekend against New Mexico. Instead, he walked to an official and told him the reception gave him the school record for career touchdown catches.
The wide receiver was presented the ball following the game after breaking the first of three receiving records held by Darrin Peterson.
“It was pretty cool at first. It was just exciting just to go into the game just to know that I could possibly have the record,” Gandy-Golden said. “Once I got it, it was kind of surreal just to be able to see all the hard work has paid off since I’ve been here.
“Right now, I just feel normal. Hopefully I can build on top of it as the year goes.”
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Chicago native easily could become the program’s all-time leader in receiving yards Saturday at New Mexico State. Gandy-Golden is 65 yards shy of breaking Peterson’s record of 3,170 yards.
The senior enters Saturday’s game second in the FBS in both receiving yards (688) and receiving yards per game (137.6) and trails Arkansas State’s Omar Bayless in both categories (689 and 137.8).
Gandy-Golden is 25 receptions away from owning that record, as well (Peterson has 215 catches).
Calvert nearing milestone
Liberty quarterback Buckshot Calvert is nearing a milestone only one signal caller in program history has reached.
The senior has thrown for 9,758 yards in his career and is 242 yards away from becoming the second in program history to reach the 10,000-yard mark.
Josh Woodrum holds the record with 10,266 yards.
“Ten thousand yards is exciting, it’s good to know, [but] definitely not where I want to be when I’m done,” Calvert said. “ … I don’t think about stuff like that. I just let the game come to me and after it happens, it happens, and we celebrate after that.”
The Plantation, Florida, native would become the third active FBS quarterback to reach the 10,000-yard mark, joining North Texas’ Mason Fine (10,708) and Washington State’s Gage Gubrud (10,073).
He is currently ninth in the FBS in passing yards this season with 1,396.
Edwards being honored
The Liberty football program will retire Kelvin Edwards’ No. 83 jersey during the Flames’ Homecoming game Oct. 19 against Maine.
Edwards is the first individual since 2008 to have his jersey retired by the football program. The No. 71 was retired in 2006 in honor of Dr. Jerry Falwell, and former coach Sam Rutigliano and tight end Eric Green (No. 86) had jerseys retired in their honor in 2008.
Edwards, a native of Atlanta, was named to the Associated Press Little All-America first team in 1985 and selected to play in the Blue-Gray All-Star game that same season.
He graduated from Liberty with 2,546 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns.
Liberty landed its 24th verbal commitment in the recruiting class of 2020 when Deep Creek High linebacker Gabe Fuster made his commitment at the Chesapeake-based school Thursday afternoon.
The 6-foot, 227-pound Fuster is rated a three-star prospect, according to the 247Sports composite ranking, and chose Liberty over offers from Virginia Tech, UMass, Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss.
Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.