We continue our series by examining what the ESPN ACC football writers think of each team's positional units. ESPN is fairly bullish on the Wake Forest front seven at a respectable #7. They are ranked just behind Virginia Tech, and just ahead of N.C. State. ESPN's full rankings of ACC front sevens. Let's take a closer look at Wake Forest's front seven.
Linebacker is somewhat of a question mark on this year's roster. Wake returns linebacker Marquel Lee, and Wake will need him to play at an all-ACC level. Still, how will they replace Brandon Chubb and Hunter Williams? I expect that Jaboree Williams will be a legitimate candidate to start, and I also expect that Zack Wary, and Demetrius Kemp are strong candidates to start. Overall, Wake should be more athletic at linebacker, which should be an asset in a college football game that is transitioning more and more towards spread offenses. Wake had the 27th best rushing defense last season, but just the 83rd best passing defense. This extra speed should improve the passing defense.
What about the defensive line? It helps that the team will return all starters on the front line. When Duke Ejiofor returned from injury last year, he had an immediate impact on Wake's pass rush. Chris Calhoun had a strong impact as a true freshman, and he should only be better in his sophomore season. Wake has size in the middle with Josh Banks, Zeek Rodney, Willie Yarbary, and Chris Stewart, and they will only increase their depth as they add redshirt freshmen Elontae Bateman and Paris Black. It would definitely be a surprise is the defensive line doesn't improve in 2016.
Next up, we will examine Wake's secondary.