Wake Forest’s linebackers face a tough task in replacing the leadership and skillset of last year’s senior captains Jaboree Williams and Grant Dawson.
Major production to replace at linebacker this season for the Deacs. Departed seniors Jaboree Williams & Grant Dawson combined for 175 tackles, 23.5 TFLs, 5 sacks, 2 INTs and 2 fumbles recovered.— Les Johns (@Les_Johns) August 4, 2018
While Demetrius Kemp returns and looks to step into a bigger role, and Justin Strnad looks like a strong candidate for a great year, the concern about who will play around them has become more evident over the past few weeks with injuries.
When asked about Kemp, Coach Dave Clawson said, “He’s just a good football player. We’re going to play him all over. We’re going to play him at rover, strong safety, linebacker. He’s a fifth-year senior, is really competitive and plays with a high motor. To have somebody like that is a bonus. He can do so much, because he’s so smart.” For more on Kemp, read this article from Les Johns, whom you should definitely follow on Twitter @Les_Johns.
Strnad was a backup last year, but had several opportunities after injuries ahead of him and made the most of them. He will start at Buck linebacker while Kemp remains the Rover, a role he also held last year.
Wake Forest linebacker Justin Strnad's 2017 numbers:— Les Johns (@Les_Johns) July 18, 2018
Ja’Cquez Williams will also get some time, but plays the same role Kemp does, so Clawson says they will have to find special packages to use both. On Williams, Clawson said, “We got Ja’Cquez Williams some work inside today. Ja’Cquez is one of our better defensive players. At times, to get our best guys on the field this year, we may have to have different sub-packages. Obviously, he’s a guy who can run and hit. We want him to be a little bit like Demetrius Kemp, where we have some position flexibility.” For more on this read Les’ article.
Both Kemp and Williams will stay on the outside as the Rover.
Jeff Burley was set to compete for time at linebacker, but is out for the season after suffering an injury late in spring practice.
Chase Monroe suffered an injury in December, and has been unable to practice since. He will likely not be available until later in the year. He is, however, making progress towards getting back into action in practice.
Deacs getting loose for Fall Camp practice No. 4. Here's LB Chase Monroe from yesterday. pic.twitter.com/QDL2GM9II5— Les Johns (@Les_Johns) August 4, 2018
Nate Mays and DJ Taylor appear to be competing for the starting spot at the Mike position on the inside, with Jake Simpson likely to back up Strnad on the inside at Buck. Freshman Ryan Smenda has a lot to learn about defensive schemes, but could also see some time, especially if any more injuries occur.
Other notes:— Conor O'Neill (@ConorONeillWSJ) August 2, 2018
- Ja'Sir Taylor blocked a FG
- Jamie Newman and Sam Hartman have had 2 days of crisp, accurate passes
- Sage Surratt might be best jump-ball WR on team (or 2nd behind Scotty Washington)
- Nate Mays, DJ Taylor and Jake Simpson competing to start at MIKE linebacker
It will be interesting to see who ends up starting alongside of Strnad and Kemp in the opener against Tulane, and who ends up seeing a lot of snaps.
Again, be sure to follow @Les_Johns on Twitter. He is a must follow for all Deacon fans for updates on anything and everything Wake Forest sports.