It all starts Friday.
Twenty-eight practices during a 27-day stretch will help coaches set the Wake Forest football 2016 depth chart.
Despite returning 17 starters and nearly all of their offensive production, many question marks still remain.
The Deacs are young, but increasingly deep, and head coach Dave Clawson loves the fact that there will be intense competition at nearly every spot on the field.
“You look at the two-deep and there’s a lot more players now in the two-deep. Here’s where we are — we have a lot more guys that I think can play in the ACC. We need more guys that emerge now that can help you win in the ACC,” Clawson told Demon Deacon Digest’s Les Johns after the final spring practice of 2016. “I’ve always said, there are guys that you win ‘with’ and there are guys you win ‘because.’ We need more guys to emerge that we win ‘because’ of. When they get to their second and third year, you hope that happens.”
During the next five days leading to the start of fall camp, we’ll break down the top six position battles we’re looking forward to following.
No. 6 Cornerback
Grad transfer Devin Gaulden’s disappointing play at corner led to true freshman Dionte Austin getting the start the final four games of the season in 2015. But the truth of the matter is, prior to the last week or so of fall camp last season fellow freshman Amari Henderson had the edge on Austin, but suffered an injury, missed important reps down the stretch and was ultimately redshirted.
“The battle between Dionte Austin and Amari Henderson is going to be a great one,” Clawson said after the Spring Game earlier this year.
Austin finished the 2015 campaign with 22 tackles, five pass breakups and one sack. Both Austin, now a sophomore, and Henderson, a redshirt freshman, had solid solid spring camps, and will be fighting it out over the next month for the second cornerback starting spot. Both have similar builds, with Austin checking in at 6-foot, 175 pounds and Henderson at 6-1, 185. Both were high school team captains, and both are being mentored by 2015 Honorable Mention All-ACC corner Brad Watson.
Watson, a senior, finished second on the team with 72 tackles last season, contributed 16 pass breakups and had two picks. He finished 8th in the All-ACC preseason voting by the media at ACC Kickoff at cornerback.
Others that could push for playing time this season include junior Thomas Dillon, senior John Armstrong and freshman Essang Bassey.