Deacons in need of receivers to complement Campanaro

MIchael Campanaro - Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Michael Campanaro was the Demon Deacons offensive catalyst last season, but if Wake Forest wants to achieve bowl eligibility, other receivers need to step up. There are several players ready to fill these lofty shoes. Who will play their way into that all-important second receiver?

No player meant more to last year’s Demon Deacons than Michael Campanaro. The aerial attack revolved around the dynamic 5-11 wide receiver as a playmaker, a decoy, a running threat and even a trickeration quarterback—he has three career touchdown passes.

Named to the Bilenikoff Watch List, Campanaro needs only 55 receptions to break Desmond Clark’s school record of 216. Hell, he even has his own song.

Courtesty Serious Sports Pro- Hayes Permar, vocals

The rising senior’s strengths are his great hands and adept route-running. He has a knack for finding a crease in the defense and possesses nifty footwork and breakaway speed to dart through the heart of the defense. Time and again, Tanner Price looked for his safety blanket in the slot on key plays. Even though he missed two and a half games, Campanaro still accounted for six of the team’s 12 touchdown receptions.

Without Campanaro, the Deacs looked like a ship without a captain (just look at the statistics for the Maryland and Virginia games, for example).

Overall, one of the biggest downfalls of the Demon Deacons last season was their failure to develop a receiver to complement Campanaro. Some receivers didn’t have the physical attributes, while others were criticized for not giving 100 percent on every play. All had cases of butterfingers.

It all caught up to Wake Forest down the stretch, when opposing teams lined up their top cornerback on Campanaro—often with safety help—daring other receivers to make a play. And the Deacs had no answer (unless you call fullback Tommy Bohanon a vertical threat).

No returning player caught a touchdown pass last season besides Campanaro.

If the Deacs want to go bowling, they need a dependable receiver to take the pressure off of Campanaro and open up the field. Price needs a Chris Givens-type home run threat on the outside to balance Campanaro’s prowess in the slot.

Top Candidates (alphabetical):

Matt James (Redshirt Junior)

Height/Weight: 6-5, 210lbs

2012 Season: 3 Games- 1 catch, 3 yards

Analysis: Matt James’s size and speed creates a matchup problem against the majority of ACC cornerbacks. At 6’5", James possesses prototypical size for an outside receiver. He also has shown signs of explosiveness, running a 4.48 40 yard dash in high school. His biggest problem is his inability to get onto the field. Against FSU, he suffered a broken collarbone and missed spring workouts due to an unrelated foot injury. If he gets healthy and has more consistent hands, he can be a major threat on the outside.

Sherman Ragland (Redshirt Sophomore)

Height/Weight: 6-2, 195

2012 Season: 11 Games- 23 catches, 247 yards

Analysis: Sherman Ragland showed glimpses of being a top flight receiver but struggled with consistency. There were times that Ragland looked invisible on the field. He also had a problem hanging onto the ball. But Ragland—a former Wake track and field standout—proved he can burst past opposing cornerbacks. With the ball in his hands, Ragland is a physical and agile downfield runner who can make plays. I expect him to improve and mature after an up and down freshman campaign.

Orville "Motor" Reynolds (Junior)

Height/Weight: 5-9, 185

2012 Season: 9 Games- 5 carries, -6 yards, 2 catches, -4 yards

Analysis: Orville Reynolds burned his redshirt to add depth in the backfield in 2011 and was rewarded with a total of five carries last season. In the offseason, the diminutive speedster moved to flanker to earn more playing time. Reynolds looked impressive at the spring game with three receptions. Like Campanaro, Reynolds will primarily play in the slot; they will only play together in four or five wide receiver sets. That being said, Motor can open up passing lanes with his breakaway speed and lightning fast footwork. But Reynolds' timing with Tanner Price is particularly important, because they have limited repetitions together and Price will have trouble finding Reynolds—generously listed at 5-9—over the defensive line. He is the wild card of the group; he possesses athletic gifts, but is an untested pass catcher.

Brandon Terry (Redshirt Junior)

Height/Weight: 6-5, 205

2012 Season: 12 Games- 15 catches, 290 yards

Analysis: Brandon Terry proved to be a lethal big play threat last season, averaging almost 20 yards per catch. Four of his 15 receptions went for at least 35 yards. He was an integral part of the upset against UNC, with four receptions for 87 yards. Not including this game, Terry averaged merely one catch a game. He suffered from a severe case of the drops for most of the season, caught in a habit of running before securing the ball. At 6-5 with deceptive speed, Terry possesses all the physical attributes to complement Campanaro. The key is securing the ball between the wickets and becoming a more physical, between-the-hashmarks, possession receiver.

Sleepers:

Jared Crump (Redshirt Freshman): One of Wake’s highest rated recruits in the 2012 class has the size and speed necessary to compete in the ACC, but needs more reps to refine his skillset.

Brad Idzik (Redshirt Junior): The always dependable, never spectacular walk-on shows grit and determination on the field. The son of new Jets GM John Idzik had three catches in the spring game.

Jonathan Williams (Redshirt Freshman): The youngster led the spring game with four receptions, but like Crump, Williams needs more time to develop.

Airyn Willis (Redshirt Sophomore): Ranked the No. 4 athlete in the state of North Carolina by ESPN, Willis has the talent to be a contributor but needs to improve his route running and his consistency.

Predictions:

1. Michael Campanaro

2. Brandon Terry

3. Sherman Ragland

4. Matt James

5. Orville Reynolds

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