The rumors that were flying like shrapnel in a firefight yesterday never made any sense. But that didn't keep my phone from ringing all afternoon, even while I was watching Jeff Bzdelik put the basketball team through its paces in preparation for tonight's game with Nebraska.

Wake Forest was not going to call a press conference for 6 p.m. with Steve Shutt, the media relations director, out of town. And Shutt, as I confirmed when I caught up with him on his cell, was out of town.

And for there to be a press conference, it had to be for something big, like Jim Grobe had decided to call it quits. And the Jim Grobe we talked to after Saturday's sobering 55-21 loss to Vanderbilt didn't sound like a man ready to walk away from what he thinks can be a really good football team next season.

I can count at least 11 reasons for optimism and all, conveniently enough, have a name. The names are Tanner Price, Michael Campanaro, Nikita Whitlock, Zach Thompson, A.J. Marshall, Josh Harris, Frank Souza, Spencer Bishop, Mike Olson, Justin Jackson and Kris Redding.

All, assuming they're back, will be seniors.

Factor in the players who will be juniors -- Merrill Noel, Antonio Ford, Matt James, Colin Summers, Brandon Terry, Zachary Allen and Kevin Johnson -- and it's easy to see why Grobe feels the way he does going into his 13th season as the Deacons head coach.

"I feel great about where we are,'' Grobe said. "I wish we could start tomorrow getting ready.

"I’m excited about where we’re headed because wer’e not going to lose many seniors off this football team. But we’ve got to have a good winter and a good spring and one of the issues, one of the problems that we’ve got right now is we’re probably not going to have Antonio back until the fall, we’re not going to have Steven Chase back until the fall, we’re probably not going to have Merrill Noel back until the fall. So some of the these guys I’d like to jump right in the middle of drills in spring ball with are not going to have the opportunity to do that until the fall.

"But I think if you look at this senior class, it’s a very small senior class so we’re not going to lose many guys.''

The Deacons ended the season that lasted too long with not enough players who were healthy enough and/or good enough to put up much of a fight against anybody. It's a recurring problem, as I wrote last week when noting that over the past four seasons, Wake has gone 6-19 in the second half of the season.

I asked Grobe Saturday if perhaps he was re-thinking his philosophy on redshirting his freshmen classes en masse. When as many as 18 to 20 of his 85 scholarship players are on the shelf, and when another dozen or so are lost to injuries or general attrition, the product he puts on the field begins to suffer.

And without numbers, the all-important competition in practice suffers as well.

Grobe seemed open to at least considering the subject. The trick, he said, is figuring out in August which freshmen can help win games without wasting a season of eligibility.

"We’ve probably got as many as eight or 10 true freshmen that we redshirted that should be on the field tonight,'' Grobe said Saturday. "These last three or four weeks, we really needed to take a bunch of those young guys and get them on the field. Because I think they could have competed and maybe played better than some of the players we had on the field. But you get to the point at this time of the year that you just can’t waste a redshirt year.

"We’re kinda caught in a bind right because the depth would come from some pretty talented players we can’t put on the field right now.

"We tried to play freshman James Ward tonight at safety and he’s not there right now. He gives us great effort, but we wanted to use him as a spot player. These past two or three weeks he’s had to play a ton of football. It’s going to be great for him in the future, going forward. I wish we didn’t have to play Tylor Harris, Big Baby. We’re going to be the same way we are with Tommy

Bohanon. We’re sick he doesn’t have another year.

"So if we knew which ones to pull the trigger on – there are about eight or 10 that we feel real good about, but we didn’t know that 10 weeks ago. We really need to figure out who can help you and you sometimes don’t know that until there’s three weeks left in the season and then it’s too late to do it.''

If a year from yesterday, two days after the final game, the Deacons are coming off a fifth straight losing season, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to hear of a press conference scheduled for later in the day.

But yesterday, like so much you read on the internet, it didn't make any sense.

 

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