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An Ode to Sam Hartman

QB1 will forever be remembered

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl - Wake Forest v Missouri Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

You don’t have to be perfect to be remembered fondly.

Sam Hartman wasn’t always perfect while in a Wake Forest uniform, but last night with the Gasparilla Bowl, he came full circle in terms of his maturity and solidifying his place in not only Wake Forest lore, but ACC history.

The kicker is, it has nothing to do with the records. Although it doesn’t hurt that the kid, well I should say man, from Charlotte finished last night as the ACC’s all-time touchdown pass leader. He finished the game like he started his career on a Thursday night in New Orleans all the way back in 2018. He was fearless, and he occasionally took matters into his own hands, while there were downs, there were more ups and Wake Forest did the most important part of a football, they finished. The TV show wasn’t just an act, he embodied the namesake, and left Wake Forest a better place than where it was when he arrived.

It can be lazy to try and sum up a career into one game, but the Gasparilla Bowl was about as close as you could’ve. You had an electric start to the game just as his first start against Tulane did. You had the offensive struggles and a couple of moments where you felt like the dam would break and things would snowball. But it’s very fitting that the culmination of the game involved the final piece of growth for Hartman, he didn’t let it spiral, and something even he had to note was a bit cathartic in the postgame press conference.

“To be able to go out there and score and seal the game, is kinda “‘Ah, ya know, finally!’... I was happy to end on a high note.”

Not being able to have that last score in other games doesn’t change his legacy, but getting this one on the board is a nice bow on an early Christmas gift.

This was his final game in a Wake Forest uniform and whatever happens next won’t change how he’ll be remembered as a proud wearer of the Old Gold and Black. Will it be weird if Hartman ends up at another school next year instead of the NFL? Yes and I don’t think there’s an avenue around it.

But him always finding a way to bounce back is what he’ll be remembered most for. He bounced back from a season-ending injury against Syracuse his freshman year. He found his way back after losing his starting job in 2019. The 2020 season ended on as sour of a note as possible in his hometown, but he spent the next year leading a team to an Atlantic division title. The ACC championship ended similar to the previous time in Charlotte, yet he found his way to end the season on a high, notching his first bowl game win. Dave Clawson said he takes pride in an 8-5 season being disappointing, and after starting out 6-1 only to finish 2-4 to end the season, there was a bit of disappointment. Yet two days before Christmas, we got one last present of resilience from QB1 to send a senior class out that’s given this school their all.

That’s been Sam’s legacy even before signing with Wake Forest. From having surgery before his junior season in high school due to having a baseball-sized abscess on his esophagus, to having to wrestle with having lost his brother three days before playing in the state championship game as a sophomore. I don’t think I’ve even touched having to have a rib removed at all during this exercise. He’s no stranger to adversity and has proved he knows what to do after it comes his way.

My proposal to honor him? Don’t retire the number 10. Instead, make it a badge of honor. Let it be reserved for those who have earned the right by being leaders, responding to adversity, and truly exemplify what it means to be a Demon Deacon. I’d think John Wolford was more than deserving to wear the number, so the logic tracks here. LSU has the number 7, and now Wake Forest can have the number 10 as their legendary number.

Thank you Sam Hartman, and Go Deacs.