8/6 First Wake Forest football practice

July 23, 2012; Greensboro, NC, USA; The helmet of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the ACC Championship trophy during the ACC media day at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro NC. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

Well football season is finally upon us in Winston-Salem. We had the Triad Pro-Am to hold us over for a little bit but now real football season is here for Wake Forest (with basketball soon to follow). The first practice of the fall season was today an despite threatening skies the rain held off and the full practice was able to be held.

There were quite a few spectators along the wall to get a first glimpse of the players and they did not disappoint. While things were certainly a little rough around the edges, overall the players looked to be in great shape and practiced with a very high intensity. Below are comments, mainly from my Twitter (@BSD_RaJohnston), as well as any other initial thoughts that I had while watching.

Comments and questions are welcome and I will answer anything that I can. I was able to see pretty much everybody but the offensive and defensive lines because they were on the opposite field/other side of the field for most of the night. I know a lot of people want to hear about the O-Line so I will try to watch them next time I go.

Click through the jump for initial thoughts from the first practice.

  • Overall the team looked really good and I got a really good look at the receivers because they were right in front of me pretty much all day.
  • The corps looks pretty good all things considered. Camp and James seem to be the leaders of the group and did everything first. James switched to #2 for the year.
  • I'd heard pretty good things about Sherman Ragland III throughout the spring practices, but tonight I saw why everybody was touting him to perhaps step in and make us forget about Chris Givens. He has an extremely explosive first step and his agility is unparalleled by anybody on the team (including Camp). Keep in mind that this was only my take watching his footwork during drills, but I am really excited to see what he can bring to us this year.
  • Coach Galloway is an awesome coach and he really does a great job of keeping a balance between overbearing and too light. He made fun of the new team manager and told him that he needed to come up with a nickname for him, but also was tough on the guys (screamed this two or three times--"IF YOU DO NOT BLOCK THEN YOU WILL NOT PLAY GENTLEMEN").
  • Orville Reynolds (switched from #27 to #5 in the offseason), Campanaro and Josh Harris were all working on punt returning throughout the night. If I had to rank them right now then I'd go Camp, Orville, JRoc. Camp has the best of both worlds in terms of fielding the ball cleanly and speed/versatility. Orville had a couple of problems with fielding punts, but has ELITE speed once he is in open field. JRoc also had a problem getting square to the punts, but was also good in open space.
  • Kinal, Hedlund and Wulfeck all punted at different times, and Kinal/Wulfeck displayed pretty good legs. They all seem to be working on high kicks that have different twists and turns. While Kinal probably has the bigger leg, Wulfeck has a unique turn on his balls that made them hard to field.
  • The secondary probably got me the most excited out of any sector on the field. From the looks of things (and it is certainly early on), the secondary appears to be Bud (CB #1), Lowe, Mack, and KJ (CB#2) for normal 4 DB formations. Okoro will back the corners and play in the nickel position, and Ramsey (the 5th CB seemingly) also made a couple of really nice plays.
  • Bud Noel and KJ are really forces to be reckoned with and could be the best CB duo in the ACC when it is all said and done. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Bud make First Team All-ACC this year.
  • While the safety starting spots are still probably up for grabs, Mack and Lowe looked pretty good during their reps. AJ Marshall has officially been moved to FS on the team roster, and perhaps could surpass one of them in the season. He could also perhaps play some nickel or dime packages as a CB as well.
  • The backup safeties as of now are probably Des Cooper and A.J Marshall, but a guy to keep an eye on is special teams stud Joe LaBarbera. He was alongside Cooper on the second team and has a great eye for recognizing plays.
  • I noticed Riley Haynes, Scott Betros, and Zach "Ziggy" Allen all put on a substantial amount of muscle and appeared to be in pretty good shape for the first day of practice.
  • Hasan Hazime, the DT post-graduate from Akron, has substantial size (is listed at 6-5, 270) and should be a pretty good backup to Nikita at NT (and perhaps some spell DE snaps as well).
  • Got to see the freshman RB Joshua Wilhite, and while he is small (and will presumably red-shirt because of the depth in front of him at the RB positon), he has pretty good speed and will be a great asset in years to come.
  • DeAndre Martin has a great balance of speed and power and brings a bit of a Kevin Harris running style to his game. I would love to see a running back by committee this year with JRoc, Orville and Martin this year. Not to mention T-Bo and Ben Emert back there in at the FB position too.
  • Tanner Price looked pretty sharp for the first practice, especially on the timing routes with the receivers. It seems like he has put a ton of time in with them over the spring and summer to get it down. Brendan Cross was in shorts and a t-shirt and didn't practice but I'm not sure why.
  • Kevin Sousa had some ups and downs throughout the night. He has improved his throwing speed, but had some accuracy problems, especially when he is on the run. His footwork could probably use some more work so he is more consistent in his passes.
  • Patrick Thompson actually did a pretty good job as well. His timing on the crossing routes was spot-on and he looked like the best QB on the roster besides Price.
  • For the kicking game, Scooby Jackson and Bud Noel were fielding kicks. They both looked good and I think Bud has worked on that a little bit this offseason, particularly the fielding aspect.
  • There was a freshman kicker on the roster named Hunter Haire that seemingly could be a kickoff specialist. He took the first few kickoffs before Hedlund came over to kick a few. They both got good height on them but it was hard to tell how far they were booting it because they were on the other side of the field.
I think that's about it from what I could see for the first night. I really wanted to get a look at the defensive and offensive lines but couldn't because of the lack of height from my spot on the wall. It bears noting that Ramon Booi, Brandon Terry and Brendan Cross were there but not practicing. I think Terry had some sort of elbow injury because Coach Galloway was ribbing him about it.

My overall impression of the team is that our strengths set us up to be similarly built to the 2006 Orange Bowl team. The defense will be our strongest sector, but our special teams should also be pretty strong as well. Everything really comes down to the offensive line again. We have several viable running backs and we need to establish a solid running game because Tanner Price is a great game manager, and can hit the long ball when he needs to.

I'm really excited about the year overall (as we all are with the first practice of the year), and I think we could do some special things if all of the dominoes fall the right way!

Hope y'all enjoyed it and I didn't leave anything out. If I did then let me know and I'll throw in my thoughts on it!

Go Deacs!!! Liberty cannot get here fast enough!
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