Jamie Newman and Sam Hartman are both trying to be Wake Forest’s starting quarterback — just as they were in the spring, just as they were last fall and almost as they were a year and a half ago, when they were competing for the backup role in spring of 2018.
It’s a friendly competition in that they’re friends and will be after a decision is made — all the while staying true to what put them at Wake Forest to begin with.
“Sam’s my guy, he’s been my guy since he stepped on campus and it’s always going to be like that no matter who gets the job or whatever,” said Newman.
“These are the guys out here you’re going to see in your weddings, hang out with after, all that stuff — you see it,” Hartman said. “There’s no way you don’t become close friends with guys when you’re out here working from 9-to-9 for a month straight.”
Wake Forest’s top two quarterbacks have a bond strong enough to avoid any chemistry issues. That was the case for three years of John Wolford vs. Kendall Hinton battles in fall camp, and it’s again the case for the Deacons.
Coach Dave Clawson places the utmost importance on having ultra-competitors as quarterbacks in his program. And the Deacons’ strength has been finding the right mixtures, with pieces that helped each other improve rather than tearing each other apart.
“We’ve been very fortunate here that in our quarterback competitions, we’ve got high-character kids,” Clawson said Friday morning. “So often, that type of thing can splinter a team. Kendall Hinton and John Wolford never let that happen, and Jamie and Sam (never have).
“… They’re team-first guys and they’re competitors, and they’re both dying to have the job. I’m not minimizing that, deep down, they want to win it. But they’re going about it the right way and trying to improve themselves and not trying to knock down the other player.”
Wake Forest is two practices into its fall camp and players haven’t strapped on pads yet. There’s plenty left to be determined before a decision is made on who starts on Aug. 30.
Both quarterbacks have had their moments in limited action. Newman sped around an edge on a quarterback-keeper Friday morning, and Hartman dropped in a beautiful throw to Scotty Washington on a deep post — the second time in as many days for a connection on a deep pass.
The biggest development between Newman and Hartman is probably the latter’s improved physique.
Hartman is listed at 200 pounds on the roster, up from the 185 listing last season. The real difference is even more, he said — Hartman played at 183 last year and is now up to 203.
“It definitely showed last year that I wasn’t to the part I need to be. I wouldn’t say I’m there yet, but I’m definitely just trying to climb,” Hartman said.
Hartman is no stranger to dramatic gain — or loss. A realization after his sophomore season at Davidson Day meant a summer spent bulking up entering his junior season. That is, until a birth defect in his thyroid gland allowed bacteria to swell into his left shoulder, and he was hospitalized. Hartman’s weight plummeted, and he wasn’t able to regain much of it until after the season.
Now Hartman weighs more than ever and is moving well, with nods to Wake Forest’s new nutrition center in the Sutton Sports Performance Center and to director of sports performance Brandon Hourigan.
“They’ve kind of taken a next-level step, you can just see it and you can see it with the new buildings,” Hartman said. “We’ve got all these new staff members, and they’ve all helped push and give us the stuff we need to get better. And then the strength staff has been a blessing and Coach Hourigan knows how to get you bigger, faster, stronger. And in the ACC you’ve gotta be ready to go.”
For Newman, the biggest development of fall camp thus far might be the same as the entire Deacons’ roster at this point. Wake Forest is scaling back intensity and entering the season slower — at first — in an effort to prevent soft tissue injuries.
Last season’s fall camp battle for quarterback was decided only after Newman suffered a pulled quad in the final scrimmage.
“I think Coach Clawson is doing a great job being proactive keeping guys healthy this year, keeping low reps, making sure everybody’s getting — like, we’re pacing ourselves into Game One instead of killing each other, where we get to Game One and we’re like six, seven guys down,” Newman said. “I think it’s a great job.”