Slot receiver E.J. Scott made the most of his graduate year at Wake Forest, and hauled in 50 receptions for 513 yards. In what came as a surprise to me, senior Matt James had 40 receptions for 401 yards. When you add in the combined 18 receptions for 121 yards between Brandon Terry and Orville Reynolds, then you realize that Wake Forest lost 50% of its receptions and 49% of its receiving yards from last year. How will Wake Forest replace this production in year two of the Dave Clawson Era? We look at several candidates.
Candidates to Replace Production
Cortez was not a highly regarded prospect in the 2014 recruiting class according to the recruiting services, but he did have very impressive tape. Clawson and company saw his talent, and Wake Forest fans should be happy they did. Cortez redshirted last fall, and also dealt with an injury, but he had an excellent spring. He's a high-caliber athlete, who has very good hands. In the spring game he had 4 receptions for 87 yards, including a 45-yard reception. That's the kind of big-play ability Wake's offense was lacking this season. Wake's offense this year will not get confused with the "Greatest Show on Turf," but they should be noticeably better than last year. Cortez will be a big reason why.
Hines is an early-enrollee who made quite the impact during spring practice. Hines was a very productive high school player, but due to his limited size, I anticipated him being a redshirt player this season. After his performance in the spring, I would be shocked if he didn't see the field as a true freshman. In fact, I think he has a legitimate chance to start in the slot. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and elusiveness.
Tyree played as a true freshman in 2013, but was redshirted last season. He finished his true freshman season with 23 receptions for 225 yards. Against Miami, he had six receptions for 95 yards, in what has been the best game of his career. I expect him to catch at least 30 balls this season.
Crump had 32 receptions last season, which was 4th on the team. The possession receiver doubled the production that he had from the year before. Now, as a redshirt junior, I expect Crump to increase his numbers again. He is a good route-runner, who has good hands. He missed some of spring practice due to injury, but had 6 receptions for 70 yards in the spring game.
Devin Pike - The tight end had 7 receptions for 34 yards last year. Cam Serigne will get the vast majority of snaps when only 1 tight end is on the field, but I expect Wake to utilize some twin tight end looks.
Steven Claude - I expect him to play as a true freshman.
Jonathan Williams - Not a possession receiver, but he has the chance to make a few explosive plays for the Deacs. Clawson has raved about his improved work ethic.
Any other candidates I missed that you all think will step up this season?
Updated to add:
KJ Brent -Graduate transfer from South Carolina. Not overly productive at South Carolina, but was well-regarded coming out of high school. At the very least he should provide depth.