For Wake Forest, the most well-known names at the Safety position last season were Jessie Bates III (SS) and Cameron Glenn (FS). Anyone who watched Wake Forest Football for a bit probably saw one of the two flashing around the football and making plays every Saturday for the Deacs. Wake Forest had one of the best safeties duo in the whole ACC.
However, as reported here at Blogger So Dear early this year, Bates decided to forego his redshirt Junior season and enter the 2018 NFL Draft. At the time, the decision was seen as a bit of a surprise given that Bates spent a good portion of the second half of the season injured and was not able to fully display his high upside. Bates took a chance at this year’s Draft and it paid off. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals on the 2nd round with the 54th overall pick.
We at Blogger so Dear wish him nothing but the best on his NFL career. He has earned every right to play in the Pros. Yet, his departure creates a hole on the depth chart at the starting Strong Safety position.
The Free Safety spot is very well served with returning redshirt Junior Cameron Glenn. Glenn registered 88 total tackles for the Deacs last season with 60 of them coming as solo tackles. He was also responsible for creating 3 turnovers (2 Int and 1 forced fumble). In my humble opinion he is a strong candidate for All-ACC honors this season. Among his many talents, Glenn also makes some pretty good highlight videos of him and his teammates. The following one gives you a glimpse of what he can do.
Coach Clawson can rest assured about his starting FS position. However, things get a bit murkier when it comes to who is going to line up opposite Glenn. The obvious answer and front runner for the job is redshirt Sophomore Luke Masterson. Albeit he struggled at times last season, Masterson filled in for an injured Bates and held his own down the stretch against some tough competition in the ACC.
In addition to Masterson, Chuck Wade and Arkeem Byrd switched to a DB role on defense. Wade is the one most likely to see the field early, as Byrd tore his ACL this off-season and is out for the season. Also, possibly vying for some snaps at the Safety position is Ja’sir Taylor, a Sophomore and top 150 athlete in the class of 2017 according to 247sports.
Replacing a talent like Bates is a tough task for any defense. Even more so in a Wake program that does not have the luxury of having 5-star recruits coming in every year. It is not realistic to expect Masterson or Wade to be able to do everything that Bates did for that defense during his college career.
Masterson is a serviceable starter and having already spent time at the position makes him the only experienced option on the roster. Additionally, Chuck Wade impressed right away in spring ball and actually ran first team next to Glenn for a good portion.
Despite the experience of Masterson, Wade appears to have an upper leg at the strong safety postion.
The expectation is that Glenn will have a really strong season and while Masterson or Wade will not necessarily replicate Bates’ production, Strong Safety should not be a liability either.
Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of the Demon Deacons next season and as always go Deacs!