It would not be accurate to say there is a quarterback “controversy” at Wake Forest, but the Demon Deacons head into preseason camp with a pair of signal-callers who logged significant playing time in 2015.
That is a blessing for head coach Dave Clawson, who was forced to start true freshman John Wolford upon taking the helm in Winston-Salem two years ago. Wolford is now set to return for his junior year, and sophomore Kendall Hinton returns after seeing significant game action last season.
Both fought through injuries last season, but combined to complete nearly 57 percent of their passes for 2,720 yards and 13 touchdowns. The pair will compete for this year’s starting job, but Clawson foresees that each will again see considerable game action, particularly if injuries become part of the equation again.
“A year ago we went into the season, and Kendall was a true freshman. John Wolford was doing a real good job as our starting quarterback,” Clawson said Friday. “Then John suffered a high ankle sprain against Syracuse (on September 12). Kendall ended up playing probably sooner than we wanted him to. He did a courageous job, was playing at a high level. Then he got hurt in the Florida State game.
“We had a situation with seven to eight games left in the season, and our top two quarterbacks, who were a true sophomore and a true freshman weren't healthy. It really became a juggling act all year.”
But last season’s experience – particularly the playing time Hinton earned as a true freshman – could pay dividends in 2016.
2015 In Review
In the second year of his rebuilding efforts, head coach Dave Clawson witnessed improvement by the Deacons in just about every area of the game with one exception, the won-loss record...Wake Forest posted the same 3-9 overall mark, 1-7 in the ACC in 2015, as the year before...But four of those losses were by seven or fewer points and could have easily ended up in the win column... hroughout his rebuilding history, the second or third year has been the turn-around for Clawson...The Deacons have played several promising young players the past two years and that experience should come in handy...Defensively, behind LB Marquel Lee, FS Ryan Janvion and CB Brad Watson, the Deacons ranked 10th nationally in first downs allowed, were 38th in total defense and 31st in red zone defense — all respectable numbers...Offensively, Wake debuted a pair of WRs with big play ability in Cortez Lewis and Tabari Hines...The Deacons already have one of the top TEs in the country in rising junior Cam Serigne...Injuries have interfered with the progress of both of their young QBs in John Wolford and Kendall Hinton, but both saw extensive playing time...LB Brandon Chubb was fifth in the ACC in tackles per game (8.9)....P Alex Kinal and Chubb were first-team All-ACC choices...Serigne, who already has 100 career receptions in just two seasons and is 11th on the ACC career list for TEs, and Watson, who was tied for the ACC lead and was 8th nationally in passes defended (1.50/gm.), were Honorable Mention All-ACC selections.
Wake loses seven starters, only two on offense in WR KJ Brent and G Dylan Intemann, and four on defense — Chubb, LB Hunter Williams, DT Zeek Rodney and CB Zach Dencel — as well as Kinal, who punted for more yards in his career than any other ACC player in history (14,102).
Wake’s schedule is back-loaded with road games at Florida State and Louisville and a home game with Clemson all Oct. 15 or later...The Deacons host Duke in a key early-season game and also travel to Indiana.
Clawson welcomes back 18 returning starters among his 46 returning lettermen, including nine on offense...For a change, the Deacs will field a veteran offensive line, led by T Justin Herron, G Ty Hayworth and C Josh Harris...Depth is also improved as several young players will compete for playing time including G-T Ryan Anderson, T Jake Benzinger, T Patrick Osterhage and C A’Lique Terry...The QB competition between Wolford, who completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,791 yards and 9 TDs, while Hinton, who threw for 929 yards and ran for another 390, adds the dimension of a run threat to the position, Their competition for the starting job will continue this fall....They will have a cadre of receivers to throw to in WRs Lewis (47 catches), Hines (32 catches), Chuck Wade (33 catches) and Jared Crump, a 2014 starter who missed last year with injuries and TE Serigne and Devin Pike...Tyler Bell and redshirt freshman Arkeem Byrd lead a RB corps that includes Isaiah Robinson, Matt Colburn and Rocky Reid...Defensively, the Deacons return eight starters, including the entire front four in DEs Wendell Dunn and Duke Ejiofor as well as DT Josh Banks...Dunn and Ejiofor combined for 15.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks...Chris Stewart and Willie Yarbary provide depth at DT, while Chris Calhoun does the same at DE...Lee returns to his MLB post where he had 72 tackles a year ago...He is flanked by Thomas Brown (24 tackles), Demetrius Kemp (18 tackles) and Jaboree Williams (13 tackles)...In his fourth season as a starter, Janvion, who ranks second among all ACC active players in career tackles with 282, is the leader of a talented secondary that includes Watson at one corner and either Dionte Austin or Amari Henderson at the other...Cameron Glenn will move into the FS position...PK Mike Weaver returns after making 11 of 18 FGs last fall.
Numbers & Notes
16 - The number of years that Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson has been a head coach. In the ACC, only Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson (19) has had more years of head coaching experience.
18 - The number of passes defended last year for Brad Watson of Wake Forest. Watson had two interceptions and 16 pass deflections. That tied for the ACC lead with M.J. Stewart of North Carolina and also tied for eighth nationally.
100 - The number of career pass receptions for junior TE Cam Serigne in just two full seasons. Serigne currently ranks 11th on the ACC career list for TEs. Virginia’s Heath Miller currently holds the record with 144 career catches.
110th - When Wake Forest and NC State meet this year at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, the two teams will be meeting for the 110th time in a series that is the longest continuous series in the ACC. The two teams have met every year since 1919, or every year for the past 97 years.