Today we are continuing our look at the Wake Forest football roster with a breakdown of the running backs. In case you missed it, RAJohnston covered the QB situation yesterday. After a disappointing injury-filled year in which Orville Reynolds ended up burning his redshirt against Notre Dame, the Deacs look to get their running game back on track in 2012.
Click through for a look at the depth chart going into the season.
The build-up going into 2011 predicted a huge season for now RS junior Josh Harris, but battling with a pulled hamstring for the majority of the year pushed him back on the depth chart and gave senior Brandon Pendergrass the opportunity to close out his career with a bang.
While Pendergrass performed better than many Wake fans expected, most notably in the Clemson game in Death Valley, the Deacs only averaged 114 yards per game on the ground last season, good for ninth in the ACC. Wake was also seventh in time of possession and last in third down conversion rate, which can also be partially attributed to a subpar rushing game. This year the challenge is two-fold: Staying healthy and finding running lanes behind an inexperienced offensive line.
Staying healthy is especially vital at the RB position for the Demon Deacs, as they do not currently have quality depth to withstand any significant setbacks. At the end of the spring, rising sophomore Orville Reynolds was first on the depth chart, with Josh Harris closing in after proving his hamstring injuries were in the rearview and turning in a strong spring game performance.
As practice begins in the fall, there is not a clear No. 1, so expect the coaching staff to split carries between Reynolds and Harris and go with the hot hand. When healthy, we've seen what Harris can do (VT two years ago and FSU last year), so at this point the key for him will be proving he can handle the bumps and bruises of an entire season and produce consistent results.
Reynolds was thrown into the fire in about the most cruel manner possible last season, as the coaching staff burned his redshirt in perhaps the most anticipated game in BB&T Field history when the Fighting Irish came to Winston-Salem. Reynolds held his own, but never really established a rhythm during his carries last season as he finished with just over 100 yards on 28 carries for the year. Hopefully with this experience under his belt he can build on the lessons learned last season and prove himself during 2012.
After Reynolds and Harris on the depth chart are Deandre Martin and Tyler Jackson. Martin, a RS freshman, is more of a bruiser-type RB, as he is currently listed at 6'2 and 215 pounds. Another Florida Deac, he hails from Miami and averaged 6.4 yards per carry as a senior at 6A Hialeah-Miami Lakes.
As Harris and Reynolds need breathers or perhaps in short-yard situations, it will be interesting to see if Martin can make a positive impact on the upcoming season. If he can provide some depth at the position, it would surely ease the stress Coach Grobe and Running Backs Coach Billy Mitchell feel about the risk of injury to Harris or Reynolds.
Tyler Jackson, currently listed at 6'1 and 210 pounds, also had some impressive moments throughout the spring and will push the competition ahead of him.