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Predicting Wake Forest’s Depth Chart for Clemson

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It’s happening!

NCAA Football: Clemson at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

We are officially 8 days away from Wake Forest opening their season against the Clemson Tigers. I would assume Tuesday or Wednesday the official depth chart will be released, so that means I get a chance to be unbelievably wrong(which never happens, by the way.)

Let’s get into it.

Quarterback

Starter: RS So. Sam Hartman

No. 2: RS Fr. Michael Kern

No. 3: Fr. Mitch Griffis

Notes: Hartman is the man behind center and was recently named one of the captains for this upcoming season. I’m very excited about the weight gain and playbook adjustments Ruggiero will be making to suit Hartman. We’ve heard from a couple of people that Kern has been spinning the ball well in camp as well. While Hartman should be far and away the starter, I’m not exactly going to burn it all down if Kern has to step in for a few plays.

With the wave around given to everyone this year, it will be intriguing to see when Griffis gets his share of snaps. In either side of a blowout, I’m assuming Clawson will pull starters faster and even some 2nd string guys now that the extra year of eligibility is guaranteed.

Running Back

Starters: RS Jr. Christian Beal-Smith OR So. Kenneth Walker III

No.3: FR. Quentin Cooley

Depth: Fr. Ahmani Marshall, Fr. Justice Ellison.

Notes: Clawson has always had a RBBC, and this year won’t be any different. CBS and KW3 look to take the lion’s share of the carries. True freshman Quentin Cooley has been a name that’s been brought up a bit, especially with him playing bigger than his stature and being a force in pass protection.

Marshall was one of my picks to break out and I’m going to stick to it as I think Wake will love his blend of size and speed, but hasn’t had much organized football since last fall where he missed a solid amount of his senior season with an injury, and only got 5 practices in the spring before COVID. Freshman Justice Ellison has video game speed and I think Wake fans will be excited when the ball gets in his hands.

Wide Receiver

Starters: RS Fr Donavon Greene(X), RS So AT Perry OR RS Fr Nolan Groulx(Z), RS Jr Jaquarii Roberson

No 2: GT Donald Stewart OR Fr Jahmal Banks(X), RS Fr Taylor Morin(Slot)

Depth: Fr Jackson Hensley(outside), Fr Ke’Shawn Williams(Slot), RS So Isaiah Isaac

Notes: There have been rave reviews about the progress the likes of AT Perry, Nolan Groulx and Taylor Morin have made over the course of camp. I have been beating the drum that Perry and Morin were poised to break out and I’m glad Groulx has started realizing the potential that had him rated so highly coming out of high school. Greene is poised to be one of the best receivers in the ACC, while Roberson has been groomed to start taking over the slot since last year so it’s his time to shine.

Depth wise, things are a bit rough on the outside. Jahmal Banks and Donald Stewart have apparently shown good things in practice but still would like them both to be eased into the season. If one of Greene/Perry/Groulx goes down for an extended amount of time, Wake will have to start dipping into walk-ons, which as good as they may be in the future, against Clemson, I’d rather not. Coach Ruggiero couldn’t have higher praises about true freshman Ke’Shawn Williams, and Isaac was a good get who flashed last year in camp before tearing an ACL, so the slot seems to be in a bit better shape.

Tight End

Starter: RS Sr Brandon Chapman

No 2: RS So Blake Whiteheart

Depth: RS Fr Cameron Hite, Fr Michael Frogge

Notes: Brandon Chapman, another captain, is locked into starting. He’s going to be a favorite target for Hartman. Whiteheart has reportedly come into his own during camp, which is needed as Wake loves to deploy some 12 personnel. Hite flashed during spring and could make his way on the depth chart as a #3, while Frogge will serve as some quality depth if he shows he’s ready.

Offensive Line

Starters: RS Jr. Zach Tom (LT), RS Jr. Loic Ngassam Nya (LG), RS So. Michael Jurgens (C), RS Jr. Sean Maginn (RG), RS Sr. Je’Vionte Nash (RT)

No 2: RS So. Allan Rappleyea(LT), RS Fr. Devonte Gordon (LG), RS Sr. Taleni Suhren (C), Fr. George Sell (RG), RS Fr. CJ Elmonus (RT)

Depth: Fr. Luke Petitbon, Fr. Zach Vaughn, Fr. Christian Forbes

Notes: So this is where things get a bit patchy. Grad Transfer Terrance Davis is “a bit of an unknown” right now so I can’t lock him into the depth chart right now. With him, Maginn shifts behind Nya, and then you’re able to mix around Elmonus, Gordon and George Sell.

The starters seem to be pretty set with the exception of Jurgens who is still battling with Suhren for the starting C spot. Backing them up, there isn’t a whole lot of experience with the exception of Suhren. Elmonus was a huge steal for the Deacs, as they held off a late surge by Miami to keep him committed. I’d assume as the season goes on Petitbon gets more reps; he had a strong showing at the UA All-American game and Tabacca is one hell of a coach who can maximize talent.

Defensive Line

Starters: RS Sr. Carlos Basham Jr. (Field End), RS Sr. Sulaiman Kamara (Nose), RS Jr. Tyler Williams(DT), RS So. Ja’Corey Johns(Drop End)

No 2: RS So. Royce Francis (Field End), GT. Miles Fox (Nose), RS JR. Dion Bergan (DT), So. Shamar McCollum (Drop End)

Depth: RS Fr Isaiah Chaney(Field End), Justin Williams(NT), RS Jr. Adam Winter(Field End/DT)

Notes: At worst the second best unit of the team, this group is going to wreak havok. Bothroyd should be back by ND which would add an elite option back to the mix, but even without him, this is a top 4 or 5 DL in the ACC which is the cream of the crop this year.

Jasheen Davis, Malik Puryear, James Ash and Kendron Wayman were all fantastic pickups, and I’d hope they’d get thrown in during the Campbell game or another blow out, but with a group this talented it’s just hard to see them cracking the depth Chart unless they show out. I was very close to putting an “or” between Francis and Chaney given both the upside Chaney brings and Cohen has made a point to mention him showing up, but for now I’ll give the nod to Francis.

Linebacker

Starters: RS Sr. Ja’Cquez Williams (Buck), Jr. Ryan Smenda Jr. (Mike), RS Sr. Traveon Redd(Rover)

No. 2: So. Chase Jones(Buck), RS Jr. DJ Taylor(Mike), RS Fr. AJ Williams(Rover)

No. 3: RS Jr. Chase Monroe(Buck) OR RS Jr. Jeff Burley(Buck), RS Fr. Jaylen Hudson

Depth: RS Fr Zach Ranson(Rover), RS Sr Luke Masterson(Rover)

Notes: Battling for the best unit for Wake is this groups. The 2 deep is absurd and even 3 deep can hold their own, which is lightyears ahead of past years where when Wake would lose 1-2 from this group and then the drop off would be significant. The only real question here is who is the 6th LB. Hemphil has said they can’t and wont play 7 LBs(between the Buck and Mike) and Burley came on strong during spring, so who gets the nod between him and Chase Monroe.

Cornerback

Starters: Sr. Ja’Sir Taylor(Boundary), RS So. Kenneth Dicks III(Field), RS Jr. Coby Davis(Nickel)

No. 2: Fr. Caelen Carson or RS Jr. Tyriq Hardimon(Boundary), So. Isaiah Essissima OR RS So. Peyton Woulard(Field), RS So. Zion Keith(Nickel)

Depth: Fr Gavin Holmes, Fr JJ Roberts

Notes: Besides OL, this one was the hardest one to ping. Ja’Sir has been confirmed as a starter, and I’ve been planting my flag all year that KD3 has been the right type of corner to take over. Nickel won’t show up on the depth chart, but this team loves rolling out with different packages, so it felt necessary to list what Hemphill has given us.

Safety

Starters: Jr. Nasir Greer(SS), RS Sr. Luke Masterson(FS)

No. 2: RS So. Zion Keith(SS), RS Jr. Coby Davis(FS)

Depth: Fr Nick Andersen, RS Sr. Keegan Good

Notes: There’s a bit of a drop between the 1s and 2s here but it truthfully doesn’t have much to do with the 2s and more to do with how good Nasir and Masterson have been in the Old Gold and Black. Trey Rucker will be back in a couple of weeks which will bolster the position, but Hemphill was downright shocked talking about how much walk-on freshman Nick Andersen has practiced and camped.

Special Teams

Starters: RS Jr. Nick Sciba(K), RS Fr. Ivan Mora(P), GT. Jack Crane(KOS), Fr. Jacob Zuhr(LS), RS Jr. Christian Beal-Smith OR So. Kenneth Walker III(KR), RS Fr Taylor Morin(PR)

Notes: HOPEFULLY, ST is less eventful with the addition of Jack Crane for kickoffs. Sciba is arguably the best kicker in college football, while Zuhr and Mora were All-Americans in high school. Morin seemed to carve out a role as a returner last year in case Kendall Hinton went down, and I’d expect him to break a few for some long runs.

Can’t wait for this all to be lit up in flames in a few days. Anything catch your eye?

Less than a week until kickoffs.

Wear a mask.

Go Deacs.