2013 Wake Forest Roster Breakdowns: Running backs and Fullbacks

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

The Demon Deacons, vowing to re-emphasize the running game, boast a variety of backs who can return the team to a hard-nosed brand of football. Griffin Kurzius dissects the possible contributors and breakout players at the position.

Wake Forest fans celebrated last week after learning that senior running back Josh Harris will be eligible for the 2013 season. The news jolted the running back position from a major question mark to a big exclamation point.

With Harris in the fold, the Demon Deacons return their two dynamic running backs from last season, along with sophomore DeAndre Martin. The Demon Deacons anticipate the versatile duo will usher the team into the ground-and-pound misdirection offense that won the ACC in 2006 and compiled a 28-12 three year record.

The return to a run-heavy offense fits the personnel and the blue-collar mindset of this team. It will buy Tanner Price more time to scan the field and should confuse opposing defenses—something that was never achieved last season. The offense should also allow the fledgling offensive line more margin for error.

With a renewed emphasis on running the football, Jim Grobe has openly challenged the running backs' toughness. He has demanded a tough-minded back in the mold of former ACC Player of the Year Chris Barclay who can handle 20-25 carries a game. Grobe has made it clear the running back position is an open competition and he is seeking a gritty, hard-nosed runner.

Martin, the team-leader with six rushing touchdowns last season, took to the press to ensure his teammates and the coaching staff that he could handle a heavy workload, "Like 25 to 30 carries a game," Martin said. "What Coach Grobe has told us is we’re going to be running the ball a lot this year, so if I can get that many a game, that would be good."

Though it appears unlikely that any individual will receive over 20 carries due to the depth that Wake Forest possesses, Martin’s confidence and swagger sings music to the fans’ ears.

This year’s offense will be an ideological reversal from last season’s pass-happy team. In 2012, the Demon Deacons threw the ball 427 times (52 percent) versus 402 runs. Meanwhile, the 2006 campaign, Wake Forest attempted 287 passes compared to 542 running plays (63 percent).

In addition, only two players carried the ball more than 20 times last season—Harris and Martin. Meanwhile in the glorious 2006 campaign, seven players received more than 20 carries.

Below the two seasons are compared thru rushing statistics (courtesy of ESPN.com).

2012 Wake Forest Rushing Statistics

Name Yr Pos G Att Yards Avg. TD Att/G Yards/G
Josh Harris JR RB 11 137 608 4.44 5 12.45 55.27
Deandre Martin FR RB 12 128 484 3.78 6 10.67 40.33
Michael Campanaro JR WR 10 16 82 5.13 1 1.6 8.2
Tyler Jackson SO RB 5 11 36 3.27 0 2.2 7.2
Brendan Cross JR QB 4 2 27 13.5 0 0.5 6.75
Lovell Jackson SR WR 12 6 24 4 0 0.5 2
Ben Emert SO RB 5 1 1 1 0 0.2 0.2
Tommy Bohanon SR RB 12 2 1 0.5 1 0.17 0.08
Terence Davis SR WR 11 2 0 0 0 0.18 0
Sherman Ragland III FR WR 11 1 0 0 0 0.09 0
Kevin Sousa FR QB 2 2 -1 -0.5 0 1 -0.5
Patrick Thompson SO QB 3 1 -2 -2 0 0.33 -0.67
Orville Reynolds SO RB 9 5 -6 -1.2 0 0.56 -0.67
Team 12 11 -22 -2 0 0.92 -1.83
Tanner Price JR QB 12 77 -26 -0.34 2 6.42 -2.17
Total

12 402 1206 3 15 33.5 100.5

2006 Wake Forest Rushing Statistics

Kenneth Moore

105

507

4.8

37

2

Kevin Harris

78

393

5

41

6

Micah Andrews

58

256

4.4

23

2

Rich Belton

51

227

4.5

33 (TD)

3

Kevin Marion

23

210

9.1

81 (TD)

1

Willie Idlette

25

138

5.5

30

1

Travo Woods

32

58

1.8

23

0

Nate Morton

6

28

4.7

8

0

Damon McWhite

8

24

3

8

0

Mike Rinfrette

6

18

3

6

1

Ben Mauk

7

6

0.9

16

0

Totals

542

2099

3.9

81

16

.

This season the Deacs are employing an offense similar to 2006 and have the personnel to thrive.

The Deacs have some young, talented bodies behind Harris and Martin. Redshirt freshmen Dominique Gibson and Joshua Wilhite possess rare athletic ability and should fight for carries. True freshman Dezmond Wortham is coming off an ACL injury but has drawn rave reviews in camp.

Wake Forest 2013 RB/FB Roster

14

Dominique Gibson

TB

10-May

205

RS FR

Belle Glade, FL (Glades Central)

20

Joshua Wilhite

TB

10-May

190

RS FR

Fresno, TX (Hightower)

21

Deandre Martin

TB

2-Jun

235

RS SO

Miami, FL (Hialeah-Miami Lakes)

24

Dezmond Wortham

TB

Jun-00

205

FR

Frisco, Texas (Hebron)

25

Josh Harris

TB

11-May

210

RS SR

Duncanville, TX (Duncanville)

32

Charles Argenzio

FB

Jun-00

245

FR

Richmond, VA (Fork Union Military Academy)

43

Jordan Garside

FB

10-May

235

RS JR

Jacksonville, FL (The Bolles School)

44

Ben Emert

FB

1-Jun

235

RS JR

Ball Ground, GA (West Forsyth)

And don’t forget, Campanaro (and possibly Orville Reynolds) will take some wide receiver handoffs. And while Price is not exactly fleet afoot, he has proven to be a capable and timely runner to avoid the oncoming pass-rush. Remember, he was a 1,000 yard rusher in high school and his legs will be integrated in the run-heavy offense.

Running Back Characterizations by Player

The Veteran: Josh Harris. The Deacs leading rusher for two of the last three seasons, Harris has been a key contributor for several years. While showing flashes of greatness, ranked 14th on the school rushing list with 1,760 yds—and should graduate in the Top 10—the oft-maligned senior has faced the skeptics on several different issues, including his injuries and academics. He was given a gift (from none other than the NCAA); Deacs fans have waited for years for the Texan to take the next step after a stellar freshman campaign. Will he end his career on a high note?

The Bruiser: DeAndre Martin. Martin barreled and trudged his way through tackles in a strong freshman season. At a solid 6-2, 235 he’s a big fella to take down and he has some giddy-up. I expect him to take a step forward and mostly run between the tackles. While he only managed 3.7 ypc, he had a knack for scoring, leading the team with six rushing TDs. Also, I am intrigued to see if Lobo brings back a Wildcat package with Martin at the helm. We all know the Deacs are always good for having a few trickerations up their sleeves and Martin has a cannon.

The Speedster: Joshua Wilhite. Grobe has effusively praised the redshirt freshman. The speedster ran a 4.4 40 yard dash and, while not as strong or as good of a blocker as Martin or Harris, he is improving. The Texan should vie for carries immediately. And expect the Deacs to use him as a kick returner and pass-catching back.

The Youngster: Dezmond Wortham.  The 6-0, 205 lbs bulldozer was fully recovered from an ACL tear last season and turned some heads in camp., but suffered a torn achilles tendon and will now likely be out for the season. Hopefully he can bounce back from this injury as well as he has from his ACL.

The Wild Card: Dominque "Boobie" Gibson. Grobe has lauded Gibson, calling him one of the team’s best athletes; Flavarsity.com ranked him the No. 4 athlete in the state of Florida. The redshirt freshman moved from safety in the spring and is still getting acclimated to offense, but Gibson’s tireless work ethic makes him a quick learner. I anticipate him to receive an opportunity to demonstrate his athletic prowess.

Fullbacks Preview

Ben Emert: Following in the footsteps of Tommy Bohanon—the projected starter for the New York Jets—is no small task, but the junior should handle the starting fullback position with competence. At 6-1, 235 lbs, Emert possesses the necessary size to create space in the running game and protect the quarterback. But expectations need to remain tempered as a receiver and a runner.

Jordan Garside: The junior played on special teams the past two seasons. He should push Emert, the likely starter, for playing time. At 5-10, 235, Garside provides much-needed depth as a lead-blocker and pass-protector.

Charles Argenzio: The freshman walked-on to the Deacs in the spring and will likely redshirt.

Clearly, the running game is critical for Wake Forest to achieve bowl eligibility. In a system that likely will feature two running backs on field at once, it is important to note the amount of different backs who receive consistent touches. It means the Demon Deacons are dominating the clock, controlling the line of scrimmage, and most importantly, playing at their own pace. Using a variety of backs will keep their players fresher throughout the game and keep the opponents off balance.

Key Statistic: how many different players are receiving consistent carries (about 2 a game, hence 20 carries in a season)

2012-2

2006-7

2013 Projection: 6- Harris, Martin, Wilhite, Gibson, Campanaro, Price

Other Possibilities- Wortham, Emert, Reynolds

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