Wake Forest Team Report
There seemed to be a different approach for the Demon Deacons, or perhaps one that reverted to a previous time when things were generally going better.
“I really worried that maybe we moved up a little bit in bigger, faster, stronger, but maybe not do as good of a job finding guys that love to play the game,” coach Jim Grobe said. “That’s what we’ve been successful with is those guys that came in and had a little bit of a chip on their shoulders and weren’t recruited by some of the bigger programs.”
So there are few concerns that the recruiting list is void of four- or five-star recruits. The Demon Deacons targeted players who appear to be good fits for the program.
It’s a class that reflects a national approach, with signees from Florida, Texas and Georgia—all regular stops for Wake Forest coaches—along with additions from California, Massachusetts and New York.
Yet the most glaring part of the recruiting class comes in the sheer numbers. The 25-player class is the largest for Grobe, who has been on board with the Demon Deacons since the 2001 season.
Wake Forest has reached the postseason in only one of the past four seasons. That means there are bound to be some openings on the depth chart.
But the way the Demon Deacons built their success from 2000-08 was by redshirting players at the start of their college careers so they would be stronger and more mature by the time they were upperclassmen.
“We feel pretty good about (this class), but we’ll find out this fall how many of them can compete for a job right away,” Grobe said. “Lots of guys who love to play football and are really good football players who fit at Wake Forest.”
Top Of The Class
DE James Looney (Lake Worth HS, Lake Worth, Fla.)—He should give the Demon Deacons some size along the defensive front, especially if he fills out more from the 260 pounds listed. He’s a younger brother of former Wake Forest offensive lineman Joe Looney, who plays for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.
LB Lance Virgile (St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)—He comes from one of the top high school programs in the country, and he’s accustomed to being around top-level players. He’s from the same high school as Wake Forest legend Brian Piccolo. It might take him time to grow into a major-college linebacker role, but he fits the profile of the type of player who has excelled in Wake Forest’s system.
RB Dezmond Wortham (Hebron, Frisco, Texas)—Here’s another project for Wake because he suffered a torn ACL during his senior season. But the Demon Deacons stuck with him, and they’ve had success with other players who have fallen on recruiting charts because of injuries in high school. He had been playing regularly since his freshman season.
• The Demon Deacons lost receivers coach Lonnie Galloway, who decided to take a job with West Virginia, where he previously coached. Galloway had looked into head-coaching positions at the end of the season, though nothing worked out for him on that front. It’s unusual for Wake Forest to lose assistant coaches because during the first part of head coach Jim Grobe’s term as coach, the staff stability was one of the strong suits.
• The Demon Deacons signed OL Josh Harris of Alpharetta, Ga., among their recruits. That means the 2013 roster will have three players named Josh Harris. The most accomplished of those so far is rising senior RB Josh Harris, a physical specimen. But the incoming Josh Harris is considerable larger at 295 pounds. The other Josh Harris is walk-on DB Josh Harris.
Practice priorities: The Demon Deacons were without a bowl game in 2012, leaving a void in December. They’ll be anxious to get back on the field for workouts, and there is no shortage of areas to address. Yet it was a relatively smaller senior class departing after 2012, so that means a core from the past team will be on hand for the spring session. Finding dependable receivers to accompany WR Michael Campanaro will be among the items on the checklist.
Quote To Note: “You just can’t make a living here in the State of North Carolina.”—Coach Jim Grobe on the necessity for his program to recruit nationally for players as well as trying to compete for top recruits within the state.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Key Losses: FB Tommy Bohanon, LB Riley Haynes, C Garrick Williams, CB Chibuikem Okoro, WR Terence Davis, DE Hasan Hazime
Players To Watch In 2013:
WR Michael Campanaro—He was in line to approach a 100-catch season if not for a broken hand that caused him to miss two full games and most of another, not to mention being a little rusty upon his return to the lineup. He has speed and a knack for finding holes in defenses, plus the willingness to make tough catches.
QB Tanner Price—He’s a three-year starter with one season remaining. It was an uneven junior season for the left-hander, whose stretches of inconsistency added to the team’s woes. His protection was often a problem, and there were also shortcomings among receivers that added to his less-than-stellar statistics.
LB Mike Olson—He was the closest player to emerging as an energizing linebacker in the middle of the defense. He plays with a spirited tone, and that’s something that the Demon Deacons need on that side of the ball. He passed several players on the depth chart during the past year, and if that progress continues, he could be a significant factor.
• P Alexander Kinal will have a different status this spring as he enters the session as the incumbent at the position. He had a solid redshirt season in 2012.
• QB Tanner Price seemed to have slippage in his performance as a junior, and so working back to a better level will be one of the priorities. Coach Jim Grobe identified Price’s inconsistency as something that needs to be fixed, and the Demon Deacons would like to see other candidates emerge and push Price.