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An Update on Wake Forest’s Linebackers

As the season is fast approaching, the linebacker position is getting thinner and the depth chart is starting to pan out

Utah State v Wake Forest Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.