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ACC Season Preview: Wake Forest

By Matt Osborne
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Wake Forest still has a long way to go in its rebuild, but the Demon Deacons have a schedule which is easy enough to give them a real opportunity to make a bowl.

After a couple of tough years to start the Dave Clawson era, Wake Forest appears to finally have enough talent and experience to take a step forward this fall. Though the Demon Deacons were picked by the media to finish last in the Atlantic Division, this is the most talented team that Clawson has had since coming to Winston-Salem.


The Demon Deacons have had some of the worst offensive lines in the country in recent seasons, but should finally be much improved up front this fall with 70 combined starts worth of experience returning. The bigger question mark comes behind the line, where junior John Wolford has been named as the starter at quarterback for the opener. But even so, sophomore Kendall Hinton will receive playing time as well, and both signal callers will continue to battle for the starting position moving forward. The Deacons do have some solid targets in the passing game with tight end Cam Serigne and wide receiver Cortez Lewis, who combined for 93 receptions, 1,173 yards and eight touchdowns last season.


Wake Forest should have one of the ACC’s best secondaries after finishing sixth in the league in pass defense in 2015. Cornerback Brad Watson led the conference I passes defended last fall, while Dionte Austin flashed a lot of potential as a freshman. Safety Ryan Janvion returns after being one of the team leaders in tackles each of the last two years. Marquel Lee is a standout player at linebacker, but the Demon Deacons lack impact players in the front seven overall. There is a relatively good amount of experience, though, which should lead to improved production on the field this season. Duke Ejiofor is the defensive lineman with the best potential to have a big season.

Special Teams

Mike Weaver returns as Wake Forest’s kicker, but he successful converted just 61 percent of his attempts last fall. Alex Kinal departs at punter, paving the way for incoming freshman Dom Maggio to take the job. Tabari Hines and Chuck Wade split duties in the return game a year ago, and both will be sophomores this season.


All things considered, the Demon Deacons have a very favorable schedule. The non-conference slate is extremely weak (Tulane, Delaware, at Indiana and Army), and the team catches a break by drawing Duke and Virginia out of the Coastal Division.

Team MVP: Marquel Lee, LB

Rising Star: Tabari Hines, WR

Newcomer to Watch: Sulaiman Kamara, DT

Wake Forest still has a long way to go in its rebuild, but the Demon Deacons have a schedule which is easy enough to give them a real opportunity to make a bowl. It will be imperative, however, that Wake Forest does well against the bottom of the Atlantic Division in order to bring that to fruition.

Matt Osborne - Matt Osborne currently serves as the director of recruiting and lead editor for Southern Pigskin. His work has been published in a number of national publications, including USA Today. Although he loves all levels of football, Matt's number one joy in his life is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborne200. For media requests, please email Matt at