Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting, development leading to Demon Deacon Depth

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson explains why junior quarterback John Wolford was in street clothes and talks about the tremendous culture change in the program the last couple years.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The finish line is getting closer and closer for the Deacs, as fall camp is spiraling toward a climactic finish.

Coming off a scheduled two-a-day Thursday, Wake went through a lighter, 12-period workout Friday afternoon.

Junior quarterback John Wolford was not dressed out, and was instead in shorts and a t-shirt, but still interacting with the other Wake quarterbacks. We asked Wake coach Dave Clawson about this and much more after practice as complete.

On Wolford not participating

Clawson: “Well, last night we had Kendall (Hinton) in street clothes. What we decided to do, is both guys are a little bit sore and we just wanted to give them each a practice off from throwing.”

How did Kendall respond after the day off

Clawson: “I think he felt good and it was very light today. We’ve been out here two weeks and they’ve been throwing a lot of footballs. The other thing is we thought it would be good — last night we had Kyle Kearns running the 1s and Jamie Newman running the 2s.”

On what he saw out of Kearns and Newman

Clawson: “They did a nice job. They did. It makes it more real for them when they’re running the offense. Jamie made some really good throws last night, and Kyle made some good throws. You never know, to get through the year, that might have to happen.”

On the QB depth now versus two years ago

Clawson: “Going from none to four is nice. Now it’s layered the way you’d like it. We have every class — junior, sophomore, redshirt freshman and a guy who’s redshirting. You have to take at least one a year, and there’s got to be competition. I think you’re seeing that with John and Kendall. They are pushing each other to get better, and are both improving because of it. They’ve set the standard for Jamie and Kyle. It takes time. It took us three recruiting classes to get to this point. We’re at a place where we’re not going to take JUCOs or transfers. It takes time to build depth. Quarterback, I think we now have that talent-wise and depth-wise where we’d like it. We’re getting really close at receiver. We’re still probably a year away on the offensive line. It’s going to get there. Taleni (Suhren) has been hurt, but certainly Tyler Watson and Je’Vionte Nash are going to be good players. Two years ago it was Justin (Herron), Phil (Haynes) and Ryan Anderson. Last year it was Jake Benzinger and Nathan Gilliam. This year, it’s those three guys. Bring in three or four a year and next thing you know, you’re getting good on the offensive line too.

On how good he needs Marquel Lee to be

Clawson: “We need him to be great. He needs to be All-ACC. He needs to be a guy that NFL scouts are coming here and watching. With Marquel, with (Brandon) Chubb and Hunter (Williams), those guys were kind of the leaders and he was younger. Now, not only has he improved physically, he’s improved as a leader. I think he views this as his defense and his linebacker corps. He’s been more vocal. He’s been more proactive.”

On if he got the energy and intensity he wanted from the team following a two-a-day

Clawson: “On a practice like today, you’re not going to have energy for all 27 or 28 camp practices. We wanted focused work. We did two team periods. We did a red zone and some end of game situations. We wanted to get in some good work. I don’t need hooting and hollering. We needed guys getting lined up correctly and hitting the right assignments and doing things the right way.”

On what he saw out of the red zone drill

Clawson: “We were working our plays and working our defenses. I saw some good balls and saw some good plays on the ball by the defensive backs. The last time, the offense got after the defense pretty good. Today I thought it was a lot more balanced. I would say our scrimmages and team periods are a lot more balanced than they’ve ever been. If it was 99/1 two years ago, then last year maybe 70/30, this year it’s a lot closer to 50/50”

On the culture change for Wake football

Clawson: “What does culture mean? Is is just a word, or is it something that actually identifies your program? Before, I don’t know if we had guys work extra. Now, those guys see Scotty Washington, Chucky Wade, Tabari Hines and Alex Bachman over the summer catch a million balls, so now that becomes standard operating procedure for a Wake Forest receiver. Before, the second practice was over there was a sprint to the locker room and a sprint to the dining hall to play video games. Now we have guys that are staying. It was a hot practice, but you’ve got receivers out there catching balls off the JUGS machine because they want to get better.

“Two years ago, they had a choice whether to play video games or catch off the JUGS — and they were choosing video games. That has now slowly started to change, and football is becoming more important than those other things. Now you have Phil Haynes doing conditioning. You’ve got Duke Ejiofor working on rushes. You have Wendell Dunn, Paris Black and Boogie Basham working on run/pass transitions. There’s not a coach over there with them. Those things to me are very encouraging signs, because they’re doing it because they want to do it, not because they have to do it. “


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