Following Wake’s spring football game, I asked what coach Clawson must have thought was one of my worst questions since being in town.
Redshirt freshman safety Jessie Bates had a great spring camp, and did some things well that day, so I asked if he would possibly be in the mix for playing time in the fall.
“In the mix?” Clawson said almost sarcastically. “That guy is playing. He’s got good ball skills. The other thing you might notice about Jessie is how smooth he is catching punts. That was a concern with me, is that we at times mishandled punts. When Jessie is out there, he’s smooth as silk.”
Clawson then reminded the media of Bates’ time in high school playing multiple sports, most notably basketball.
“He judges the ball, he’s got soft hands. Sometimes when you get a guy that was a baseball player and a basketball player, he has those ball skills,” Clawson said that day. “It translates to being a punt returner. He’s been judging the ball off the bat all his life as a baseball player. He’s been judging the ball off the boards as a basketball player. Those are all good multi-sport skills that he has that makes him valuable back there.”
So yeah, we’ll start off our look at the safety position by stating that it’s clear Jessie Bates will be playing.
But he’s just one of three guys Clawson is understandably excited about in 2016.
Returning senior starter Ryan Janvion was tied for second on the team with 72 tackles in 2015, was elected a team captain and received preseason All-ACC votes.
Redshirt sophomore Cam Glenn had a solid freshman campaign, and impresses the staff with his 6-foot-1 frame and his athleticism. He finished seventh in tackles last season with 38 and had one interception.
Those three should have the edge in getting the two starting spots at WHIP and STUD safety.
The next tier of depth comes from redshirt junior Josh Okonye and true freshman Traveon Redd. Okonye was used as the nickel back in passing situations last season, according to the Wake Forest Media Guide, and played in all 12 games.
Redd is a heralded recruit from Magna Vista High School in Ridgeway, Virginia. He enrolled in January and had a solid spring. History shows that early enrollees typically see the field in their freshman seasons for Clawson at Wake Forest, so don’t be surprised to see Redd contribute. Film shows he’s a big hitter, and Wake fans will likely grow to really love this player as his career progresses.
Freshmen most likely to redshirt at safety this season are Luke Masterson and DeAndre’ Delaney, but stranger things have happened.