Two years ago, the Journal said Wake Forest was “well-armed” at quarterback.
The story was simple enough, and ran down the left side of the Journal’s sports section exactly two years ago. It centered on the trio of quarterbacks that stirred optimism at the position before the 2017 season.
“Deacons at long last well-armed at quarterback” was the headline.
The trio that had Coach Dave Clawson so encouraged entering a season that culminated in the Belk Bowl victory consisted of Kendall Hinton, John Wolford and Jamie Newman. Wolford won the job in camp and was the most-efficient passer in the ACC, producing 322.9 yards of offense per game.
Hinton and Newman have diverged in only two years since: Hinton’s complicated path took him from starting QB to suspended player to the transfer portal and now to starting slot receiver, and Newman’s patient path saw him ascend to starting QB last season only after Sam Hartman’s season-ending injury.
Now the Deacons are again well-armed at quarterback.
With Hartman and Newman, Wake Forest has the second-best quarterback situation in the ACC.
Just like the league standings figure to play out, everybody is chasing Clemson. The Tigers have generational talent Trevor Lawrence and can back him up with Chase Brice, who led Clemson to the 27-23 win against Syracuse — the only close ACC game the Tigers were in last season — in relief of Lawrence.
But whereas senior Bryce Perkins of Virginia is the second-best quarterback in the league, the Cavaliers’ other five quarterbacks have attempted a combined 14 passes in college (one sophomore, one redshirt freshman and three incoming freshmen). Brennan Armstrong enters August as the primary backup, but he played in four games last season and threw just five passes.
Other returning starters in the ACC are Boston College’s Anthony Brown, who’s been hindered by inconsistency and inaccuracy in the last two seasons; Virginia Tech’s Ryan Willis, who seemed to find his footing after taking over early last season for the Hokies; Louisville’s Jawon Pass — yikes; and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, who only threw for more than 200 yards once last season (at Wake Forest, with 316 yards).
No roster can boast what Wake Forest’s can and, health-permitting, will.
If Newman doesn’t win the starting job, the Deacons will have a backup who beat three bowl teams in a four-game span and recorded two game-winning touchdowns in the final minute.
If Hartman doesn’t win the starting job, the Deacons will have a backup who threw for nearly 2,000 yards, already ranking 19th for the school’s passing yards total in a career.
The Deacons are, indeed, well-armed at quarterback.
And if we look behind to look ahead, two years from now Wake Forest’s quarterback situation is likely to feature different components.
It’s the nature of the position.
Newman, barring an unforeseen sixth year, won’t be in Winston-Salem. Tayvon Bowers could be entering his fifth season in the program, Hartman his fourth season, Michael Kern his third. We’ll know a lot more about Mitch Griffis, the quarterback for the 2020 recruiting class who’s been committed to the Deacons for more than a year.
If we make July 30 the unofficial and biennial check-the-Deacons’-quarterback-situation day, chances are that in 2021, one thing and one thing only will remain a constant:
The Deacons will be well-armed at quarterback.