Wake Forest Football: The Top 5 Position Battles Heading into the Fall
Yesterday was the first Saturday of summer, but fear not. The boys of fall will be back on the field for fall practice in just over a month.
The Demon Deacons lose over half of their total production both on the ground and through the air from a year ago. That means previous backups and incoming freshmen alike will have ample opportunity to shine for the new coaching staff. Not to mention there's added pressure for returning starters to keep their jobs in a completely new system.
Here are a few position battles Coach Clawson and company will have a close eye on when fall practice starts on August 1.
Senior Orville Reynolds seems to have a hold on the starting gig in the backfield coming out of the spring. However, he spent most of last year at receiver. Dominique Gibson could provide help on short-yardage situations, but he's not an option as an every-down back. The Deacs even moved James Ward over from safety in hopes that he could help carry the load.
In short, Wake is desperate for depth at running back. Here's hoping the Demon Deacon himself can just hop on the motorcycle and take the handoff on an occasional dive play.
Returning place-kicker Chad Hedlund struggled last year, even from inside 40 yards. He also lost his kickoff duties midway through the year after failing to record a touchback.
Don't be surprised if Clawson gives now-eligible redshirt freshman Mike Weaver a shot at both jobs. If nothing else, the competition may push Hedlund to be more consistent after a disappointing 2013.
Wake Forest loses its top three receivers from last year in Michael Campanaro, Spencer Bishop and Sherman Ragland. Thus, there are four horses in the running for two starting slots at wide receiver, and it should come down to the wire.
Sophomores Tyree Harris, Jared Crump and Jonathan Williams all saw the field last season, though their production reflected their Nos. 3-6 receiver roles.
E.J. Scott will be a welcome addition from UVA, and the transfer is eligible to play immediately. Look for the winners here to be whoever meshes best with the starting quarterback, another position still to be determined.
Marquel Lee, with his speed and range, is the perfect linebacker for Coach Clawson's 4-2-5 defense, both in coverage and run support. The question, though, is: Who will start alongside him?
Brandon Chubb is a returning starter, but his lack of speed could spell trouble in the new system. Sophomore Teddy Matthews seems similar in terms of skill set to Lee, but it'll be up to the coaching staff to decide on production versus playing style as fall practice progresses.
As the old football adage goes, "If you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none."
Well, the Demon Deacons have four.
Come August, returning backup Tyler Cameron, former wide receiver Kevin Sousa and freshmen John Wolford and Travis Smith will all get a long, hard look in the sweepstakes to replace Tanner Price.
It will likely remain the Deacs' greatest question mark until toe meets leather on August 28 against ULM, and possibly beyond.
Here's why I think Tyler Cameron will get the nod and thrive in his first year at the helm.
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