We continue our spring practice tour of the Wake Forest football team by taking a look at the safeties. Who do we project to start and who do we expect to see meaningful playing time in reserve roles?
The 2015 Demon Deacons had an experienced pair of safeties in Ryan Janvion and Zach Dancel. Dancel was a graduate transfer from the University of Maryland, and he started all 12 games at the STUD position. Janvion missed the North Carolina game due to injury, but started the other 11 games at the WHIP position. He has more than 30 career starts to his name. While the duo combined for 132 tackles, neither had an interception. In fact, Wake Forest only had six interceptions last year, which was tied for 111th in the country. That has to improve this season.
Janvion is missing spring practice with an injury, but head coach Dave Clawson has declined to comment on the exact nature of the injury. In some sense, this injury has actually been a positive for the football program, as it has allowed the younger players to earn more reps. From the comments of Clawson, the young players are taking advantage of the opportunity.
Clawson has said that he is "really excited" about the way that redshirt sophomore Cam Glenn is practicing. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko also commented that he liked the way both Cam Glenn and redshirt freshman Jessie Bates are competing. Cameron Glenn and Josh Okonye will play WHIP, while Ryan Janvion and Jessie Bates will play STUD. Janvion is capable of playing both positions. Wake now has some legitimate depth at the position, and will have more opportunities to substitute and get fresh legs in the game. The defense wore down at the end of games last year, and that should not be as much of an issue this year.
Cameron Glenn has a very productive year last year as a RS FR. He finished the season with 38 tackles and an interception. He record a season-high 10 tackles against Indiana, and also had 7 against Florida State. Glenn had a huge interception in Wake Forest's win over Boston College, and he should help bring more playmaking ability to the position. Look for him to take a major step forward in both interceptions and pass break ups. Ultimately, I believe that Glenn will start opposite Ryan Janvion. He has the combination of size and ability to do it.
Jessie Bates had a lot of talent coming out of high school, but was not that well-developed physically. He was 6'2", but weighed just 185 pounds. Now that he has had time in a college strength and conditioning program, his football instincts are better able to come through. I'm excited about his prospects moving forward, and think the coaching staff did an excellent job of flipping him from Toledo. Iowa started to come on strong towards the end, so it was a major recruiting win. I'm very much looking forward to watching him play in the spring game. Also, the clip below doesn't necessarily translate to the field, but it's a pretty impressive display of hands. Hopefully he can also add some ball hawking ability to the safety position. There's no doubt, however, that he will see some solid playing time both at safety and on special teams.
Overall, I expect the safety position to be much better than it was a year ago. It will be more athletic and better at making plays and preventing big plays.
Wake Forest will hold its second scrimmage this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at BB&T Field. If it rains, then the scrimmage will be moved to the McCreary Field House. The spring game is scheduled for April 9th at 3 p.m.