Three-star offensive lineman Cal Grubbs announced his commitment to Liberty on Sunday, choosing the Flames from among 22 offers, including Power 5 offers from Duke, Ole Miss and Virginia.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Maryville senior said he decided on Liberty because he felt the strongest connection with his coaching staff, especially offensive line Chris Klenakis. Klenakis previously coached at Arkansas, Iowa State and Louisville, and joined the Liberty staff in January.
“Coach Klenakis has put around 14 or 15 offensive linemen into the NFL with some of his past schools that he’s coached at, so I think he can definitely help me develop into where I really want to be and help me get to the highest level of playing,” Grubbs said. “Just going there, everything felt it felt right.”
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Grubbs is the second Maryville player to choose Liberty in back-to-back classes. He follows three-star wide receiver Markel Fortenberry, who will be a freshman for the Flames this fall. Grubbs said Fortenberry didn’t play a major role in his recruiting process, but he is excited that there will be a familiar face when he gets to Lynchburg in 2023.
“We were pretty good friends before he left, so I think that it’ll help and it’ll give me someone to rely on,” he said. “And of course, I’ve talked to his family a little bit about it and to him how things are there.”
The offensive lineman was selected to the all-region 2-6A and all-state teams in 2021 and helped Maryville to the Class 6A state semifinals.
Grubbs is also the Flames’ second class of 2023 commitment from Tennessee. He joins three-star Lipscomb Academy quarterback Hank Brown, who is entering his first season starting under center for the Mustangs.
Liberty finished the 2021 season 8-5. It is scheduled to move up to the FBS level by joining Conference USA in the 2023-24 season. Grubbs said he found the Flames’ program more impressive than many of the other teams he visited.
“Liberty really exceeded my expectations for them just being a (future) Group of Five school,” Grubbs said. “Some things were a whole lot nicer there than some of these Power Five schools that I went to, and I just think they’re a better football team as well.”
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