WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wide receivers Cortez Lewis and Jared Crump missed all of spring football for the Deacs, and Tabari Hines was limited.
The bad news for the Deacs is that two starters from 2015 missed a lot of practice time.
The good news is that it gave valuable reps to players that now help round out potentially Wake’s deepest and most talented position group going into the 2016 season.
No player took more advantage of those reps than rising sophomore Alex Bachman, who became nearly automatic in his pass-catching ability, putting him in prime position to win to starting “S” receiver starting position, vacated by the departure of K.J. Brent.
“K.J. set a great example for me last year and really showed me the ropes,” Bachman said after practice Wednesday. “I got a little game experience, but coming into the spring I felt like this was my opportunity to be a guy the quarterbacks could rely on to get open.”
Bachman saw action in 11 games last season, finishing with 101 total snaps of play — mostly on special teams. He had one reception for eight yards.
“In the off season, I just really worked and I got bigger, stronger and faster,” Bachman said. “Spring, I felt was a great opportunity to show my talent. I think the coaches saw something in me and they trust me now and I’ve got an opportunity to play this season.”
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson is amazed as the consistency he gets every day from such a young player.
“Alex Bachman is the same player and the same person everyday. He catches everything,” Clawson said. “He runs great routes. He’s faster than people think. When he came to our camp, he ran a 4.5 (40 yard dash). That was hand timed. I think there’s sometimes you label guys and there’s certain types of receivers. If he had a single-digit on him people would say he’s fast.
“He’s got very underrated speed, he’s an exceptional route runner, he’s got really good hands and he’s a smart football player. His greatest strength is his consistency. He gives us a great work ethic and consistent performance every practice. Those are guys you can count on.”
Bachman carries around a three-pound ball with him everywhere to further strengthen his hands.
“God’s just blessed me with good hand-eye coordination. That’s one of my better attributes. I always try to work on the JUGS machine when I go home,” he said. “I’m always working with the quarterbacks and doing everything I can to make my hands stronger. You can get open, but if you can’t catch the ball, it doesn’t do us any good. That’s the most important thing.”
The depth and talent at wide receiver is clearly the best of the Clawson era, with little dropoff likely as you move from first-string to second.
“We have a great group of talented guys. We’ve got Scotty (Washington) and Cortez (Lewis) who can go up and get it, and then explosive guys like Steven (Claude), Tabari (Hines) and Chucky (Wade),” Bachman said. “We have a great group of guys and we don’t see it as a competition. We see it as a family. We make each other better every day. We hope to go into the season and make some plays for our team.”