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Wake Forest Football 2021 Spring Football Position Overview: Defensive Line

Big boys with a big jobs this year

Wake Forest v Clemson Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Returners(5): DT Miles Fox(Super Senior), DT Sulaiman Kamara(Super Senior), DT Tyler Williams(RS Junior), DT Dion Bergan(Junior), DE Royce Francis(RS Sophomore), DE JaCorey Johns(RS Sophomore), DE Rondell Bothroyd(RS Sophomore), DE Isaiah Chaney(RS Freshman), DE Jasheen Davis(Freshman), DE Kendron Wayman(Freshman), DT Will Smart(RS Freshman), DT Justin Williams(RS Freshman), DT Malik Puryear(Freshman), DT James Ash(Freshman)

Newcomers(3): DE Luiji Vilain(Grad Transfer), DE BJ Williams(incoming Freshman), DT Bernard Gooden(Incoming Freshman)

Departures(2): DE Boogie Basham(NFL Draft), DE Shamar McCollum(transfer portal)

What happened in 2020?

This unit was good but not great last year. This was the unit that pretty much everyone thought would be near or at the top of the ACC last year given what was returning. However, that didn’t really come to fruition. Across the board they were... fine? No one really had outstanding stats whether it be sacks, tackles, or just generating pressure. The NC State game was pure pain, and it felt like at times it was just not enough.

That shouldn’t take away from the positives, even taking Boogie out of the equation.

Miles Fox was an All-ACC player coming off of a popped Achilles and when he was on, he was ON.

JaCorey Johns continued to flash the upside that we have seen the last year and a half from him.

Kamara continued to be a good player in the middle, Bothroyd had a MONSTER VT game and was the main reason Khalil Herbert was kept in check. Young guys like Will Smart, Isaiah Chaney, and Justin Williams offered good snaps throughout the year and in the bowl game. If there was one thing that was positive, it was that they weren’t afraid to rotate anywhere on the line.

So what needs to happen in camp?

  1. Life without Boogie

We know Rondell Bothroyd will take Boogie’s spot at Field End. I’m also extremely high on him, he’s coming off an ACL tear in 2019 which was tough to rehab at all for 2020, just ask Nasir Greer. Bothroyd can be very productive but they need him to take that jump, as they do with JaCorey Johns at Drop End. If this team is going to take the next step, they have to get these guys to become stars.

2. Who’s your depth?

One of the best parts about having a guy like Boogie is that you could have Bothroyd be your backup and be great. But at least at the end positions, who’s next man up? Will 4-star Jasheen Davis make the next step in living up to his potential behind Johns? Does Kendron Wayman take the next step in his development? Isaiah Chaney found his way into a lot of games last year, does he turn into the next Bothroyd? Vilain won’t be on campus until summer and BJ Williams is only a freshman

3. 3 Deep at DT

Will Smart offered some very good snaps down the end of the season, Justin Williams played well in the bowl game, Dion Bergan has been good and made some plays, Tyler Williams may be the best DT on the team but just can’t seem to stay healthy. These 4 are going to be extremely important to keeping “the old men” that are Fox and Kamara fresh and healthy. If Wake can feel like they have, not just 6 playable DTs, but six GOOD DTs, the sky is the limit for this team and will allow the ends and linebackers to wreak havoc this year.

X-Factors: It’s hard here, so I’ll cop out and go 1 at each position. Jasheen Davis at Drop End, Isaiah Chaney at Field End and Dion Bergan taking the next step at DT.