For the past several seasons, cornerback has not been a question mark for the Wake Forest football team. In fact, it has probably been Wake's strongest position over the past three to four seasons. Last year Wake Forest started senior cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Bud Noel, who finished their careers with more than 80 combined starts. This year it's a major question mark, as those two players have graduated and Wake is also dealing with injury problems at the position.
The presumed starting cornerbacks this season headed into spring practice were junior Brad Watson, and sophomore Bryant Gross-Armiento. Unfortunately for Wake, neither has been able to participate in spring practice due to injury. Watson suffered a fractured wrist, while Gross-Armiento recently had surgery to repair his ACL. Watson should be back by the time practices start in August, but Gross-Armiento's status is uncertain. I like the talent of these players, but there is serious concern about depth at the position. If Gross-Armiento can't go, then that's even greater cause for concern as Wake heads into the 2015 season.
The lack of depth at the position is even more apparent in spring practice as neither of Wake's 2015 cornerback signees, Dionte Austin and Amari Henderson, enrolled early. I'm assuming the Wake Forest staff is planning on playing at least one, and maybe both of these players this Fall, so their absences are relevant to the lack of current lack of depth. Playing true freshmen at corner is not ideal, but it's probably going to be a reality for the Wake coaching staff this season. I'm a big fan of both Henderson and Austin moving forward, but I don't want to heighten the expectations for these two that much in year one.
Currently there are only several healthy cornerbacks on Wake's campus. Those are Thomas Dillon, Josh Okonye, Jalen Latter. That's it. That's the list. John Armstrong is also converting from receiver to defensive back, and therefore he's still learning the position. Wake is two-deep at each safety and linebacker position, but the Deacs cannot afford injuries to the corners. Wake was greatly dependent upon the corners to make big plays last year. This year the Deacs will have to rely more on the front seven. I have to think that corner is going to be a heavily recruited position for Wake Forest in the 2016 class. Wake will be fine at corner if the Deacs can stay healthy, but that's a very risky assumption to make. The theme at this position, like others on the roster: talented, but young.
Wake Forest will host a scrimmage on Friday at BB&T Field beginning at 10:30 a.m. It is free and open to the public. My understanding is that this format focuses on game situations, rather than just a back-and-forth. This will be a great chance for Wake fans fortunate enough to have the day off to check out the team.
The Spring Game is scheduled for April 11th at 3 p.m.