Harris and Allen await clearance from NCAA

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Dan Collins had his usual pre-season write-up for the Winston-Salem Journal on Wake Forest football today and it contained a plethora of tidbits about the Deacs.

Well football season is almost here again. I know this because practice starts Friday, Dan Collins has written his pre-season article on Wake Forest football, and we have questions about the eligibility of crucial players stemming from academics or injuries.

According to Collins, running back Josh Harris and linebacker Zach "Ziggy" Allen are waiting to hear back from the NCAA as to whether or not they will be eligible to play football for Wake Forest this season.

Harris, who has rushed for more than 1,800 yards at Wake Forest, is academically ineligible for his final season with the Deacons. Coach Jim Grobe said Wake Forest has applied for a waiver from the NCAA that could restore Harris’ eligibility, but until the ruling is announced Harris will not be a part of the preseason preparations for the Aug. 29 opener against Presbyterian.

Harris failed a course in the spring he needed to remain eligible. It was the second such experience for Harris, who was academically ineligible the spring of his freshman season before passing enough courses in the summer to be able to play as a redshirt freshman in 2010.

The waiver was sent in last Friday and there is no real guess as to how long it will take to figure that out. It could take a week or it could take a month. As for now, Harris is still back in Texas, staying in shape and waiting to hear what his future holds.

If Harris is unable to go, Grobe still has sophomore Deandre Martin at his disposal along with the talented Dominique Gibson.

Zach Allen is in the same boat as Harris as he slipped up in the classroom, bringing his eligibility into question as well.

If deemed ineligible, these transgressions removes two of the more experienced and talented players on the roster, at least for the time being. Even if they are reinstated by the NCAA, it hurts the team because of the time missed in Winston-Salem.

Anthony Wooding Jr., the transfer from Air Force, will also hear whether or not he is eligible or not. Coach Grobe is more optimistic about Wooding though, as opposed to the other two, where he put the odds at 50/50:

Grobe said he has reason to believe Wooding will be eligible this spring. The NCAA has ruled that receiver Mikel Hunter, who was also dismissed from Air Force before last season, will be eligible to play this season at Charlotte.

It is good that there is some precedence for the transfers from Air Force, however, I am not sure how it will differ going from an FBS school to an FBS school (AF to Wake), and an FBS school to an FCS school (AF to Charlotte).

Wooding Jr. would bring good depth into the secondary for this year and his experience from Air Force would be a good mesh with the returning players.

In better news, Antonio Ford and Steven Chase are on the mend from injuries they sustained last year on the football field.

Ford broke his leg last year and has not been medically cleared to practice yet. His bone has healed correctly and hopefully he will be out there soon.

Chase tore his ACL in a fight with (teammate) Nikita Whitlock, but that has healed properly. He is now hindered from lingering back spasms sustained in a car crash this summer. He is listed as "limited" according to Coach Grobe and should participate in some of the activities when practice opens.

There are a lot of open-ended questions for the Wake Forest football team even before the year starts, and unfortunately most of them have to do with injuries or eligibility issues that could have been avoided. Coach Grobe will ideally use these as learning tools for the rest of the team and it will be a growing process for the entire squad moving forward.

Kudos as always to Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal for the great job he does covering Wake Forest athletics.

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