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Wake Forest Football: Five X-Factors

Jared Wickerham

X-factors are players who are now in bigger roles and will be relied upon more than they were in 2013. They have shown flashes of being being strong contributors in the past, but now must demonstrate more sustained success in their expanded role. They are not necessarily the best players on the team, but how well they perform will dictate how successful this year's Wake Forest team will be. For example, you will not find star cornerbacks Kevin Johnson or Merrill Noel on this list because I expect them to continue their high level of play. Players moving from a special teams role to a starter, however, are prime candidates. Which Wake players are the x-factors for the 2014 season?

Quarterback John Wolford

Wake's quarterback race is as difficult to predict as it gets. You have a quarterback in Tyler Cameron, who went just 7-24 for 85 yards and 3 interceptions last season. Kevin Sousa was highly touted out of high school, but has yet to attempt a pass in a collegiate game. Then there are two incoming freshmen in Travis Smith and John Wolford.  I'll go ahead and predict that Wolford will be the quarterback, but I can see any of the four winning the battle. With a clear lack of stability at the game's most important position, whoever is this year's quarterback is by definition an x-factor.

Running Back Orville Reynolds

Orville Reynolds has just 42 career carries, but is slated to be the team's starting running back this upcoming season. Given the inexperience at quarterback, Orville Reynolds' level of play will go a long way in determining how successful the 2014 Wake Forest offense will be. Orville had 19 carries in the spring game, which is five more than he's had over the past two seasons combined.

Wide Receiver Tyree Harris

Last season Michael Campanaro was Wake Forest's passing offense. When he went down, the offense went down with him. Campanaro's production will not easily be replaced, but Tyree Harris will be someone Coach Clawson counts on to generate offense for the Deacs. Harris had 17 receptions in 8 games last season, but had 15 of those over his final 4 games of the season. Tyree had 6 receptions for 95 yards against Miami, so he clearly has the chops to play at a high level. The Deacs will need him to take another step forward this season.

Defensive End/Outside Linebacker Zachary Allen

Wake Forest lost all three of last year's starting defensive linemen due to graduation, and this unit has perhaps the most question marks of any unit on the team (outside of quarterback). Allen is making the transition from outside linebacker to defensive end, and is slated to start opposite Desmond Floyd. Allen missed last season, but recorded 42 tackles during the 2012 season. The secondary should be excellent already, so if Zach Allen has make quarterbacks uncomfortable, that will only lead to more turnover opportunities.

Linebacker Marquel Lee

Marquel Lee played last season as a true freshman, and mostly contributed on special teams. Lee had a total of 14 tackles, which was 15th on the team, but this year he is slated as a starter in the 4-2-5 defense. Lee has had an excellent spring and that culminated with his 9 tackle performance in the spring game. Brandon Chubb is a proven linebacker, but Lee's level in run protection is critical.

Are there any other names who you consider to be x-factors?