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Projected Wake Forest Football Two-Deep Depth Chart: Defense

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Can they have a bounce back from last year?

Wake Forest v Virginia Tech Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

With Fall camp starting checks notes today(!!), it seems timely to project what the defense might look like come week one.

Defensive End

Starters: RS So. Rondell Bothroyd(Field End), RS So. JaCorey Johns(Drop End)

Backups: Fr. Jasheen Davis(Field End), Gr. Luiji Vilain OR Fr. Kendron Wayman(Drop End)

Depth: RS Fr. Isaiah Chaney, RS So. Royce Francis, Fr. BJ Williams.

Thoughts: Replacing Boogie Basham is no small task, but a guy like Rondell is up to the task. Coming off an ACL tear in 2019, Bothroyd has lost 17 pounds since last year and seems more nimble and quicker. JaCorey Johns has been productive but everyone wants him to start being even more productive. Former 4-star Jasheen Davis lit things up in spring camp, there wasn’t a day where he wasn’t mentioned due to his motor and just making plays. The backup drop end position will be a battle: bringing former touted recruit Luiji Vilain from Michigan was a smart idea but can he stay healthy enough to make an impact? Second-year player Kendron Wayman has been a guy mentioned as a guy who the more reps he gets, the better he gets, but can he hold a playable level?

Defensive Tackle

Starters: RS Sr. Sulaiman Kamara, Gr. Miles Fox

Backups: RS Jr. Tyler Williams, Jr. Dion Bergan Jr.

Depth: RS Fr. Will Smart, RS Fr. Justin Williams, Fr. Kevin Pointer

Thoughts: the quiet assumption is that if the fall goes well, Dave Cohen will have a unit that can go three-deep. The top four of Kamara, Fox, Williams, and Bergan Jr, seem pretty set in stone if everyone stays healthy. Smart and Justin Williams had some nice snaps towards the end of the year and they prioritized getting Kevin Pointer in the portal. Could be a scary unit this fall.

Linebacker

Starters: RS Sr. Luke Masterson(Buck), Jr. Ryan Smenda Jr.(Mike)

Backups: So. Chase Jones(Buck), RS Fr. Jaylen Hudson OR RS Jr. DJ Taylor

Depth: RS Fr. Zach Ranson, Fr. Dylan Hazen, Fr. Joshua Sosanya, Fr. Quincy Bryant

Thoughts: One of the two biggest question marks is the play at this position. Masterson and Smenda are locked in as starters, and Chase Jones is number three. What’s behind them? DJ Taylor has always seemed to have the talent but hasn’t seen the field much since his freshman year, Jaylen Hudson has been getting his feet wet, but is he ready? Zach Ranson has basically been absent and then three true freshmen. This camp is going to make or break this position.

Rover

Starter: RS Fr. AJ Williams

Backup: So. Chelen Garnes

Depth: RS Sr. Luke Masterson, RS Sr. Traveon Redd

Thoughts: moving Redd to safety and Masterson to linebacker was prompted by the staff feeling great about AJ Williams and Chelen Garnes, as do I. AJ proved himself last year on the field, and while Garnes wasn’t eligible to play until the bowl game, he reportedly made play after play in practice. If a rash of injuries happened, Redd would be the first to slide back to Rover vs Masterson.

Cornerback

Starters: Sr. Ja’Sir Taylor, Fr. Caelen Carson

Backup: Gr. Isaiah Wingfield, Fr. Gavin Holmes

Depth: So. KJ Trujillo, RS Jr. Tyriq Hardimon, RS Jr. Coby Davis, Fr. DaShawn Jones

Thoughts: A year ago, this was looked at as one of the weakest points on the team, and became one of the best units on the team essentially overnight. Ja’Sir and Caelen have established themselves as two of the better corners in the ACC. Gavin Holmes showed all the potential in the world but needs to stay healthy. Wingfield was one of, if not the, best corner in the Ivy in 2019 and had a laundry list of suitors when entering the portal. Trujillo was a late portal addition and Hardimon had a good spring. A note here is that most guys put on weight during the spring and summer, could we see more press coverage this year?

Safety

Starters: RS Sr. Traveon Redd, Jr. Nasir Greer OR Fr. Nick Andersen

Backup: RS So. Zion Keith

Depth: Fr. Malik Mustapha, Fr. JJ Roberts, Fr. Evan Slocum

Thoughts: So this one is hard and probably the one most likely to be different than the actual depth chart. Redd is locked in, while Greer is finally healthy and will have a fierce battle with Nick Andersen for the other slot. The backup is hard as JJ Roberts started coming along towards the end of the year, Malik Mustapha is an absolute dude and Wake had to fend off multiple P5 suitors for him in the portal, while Zion Keith has the most experience and before his injury, was playing at a very high level. This one seems like a good problem to have given the many options.