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Offseason/preseason Updates

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

August 25, 2003

  • Running back Fred Staton, who gained 583 yards as a sophomore in 2001 but sat out last season (academics), again failed to make the grade and won't play this season. A high-profile signee under Jim Caldwell in 2000, Staton occasionally showcased his talent at Wake Forest but repeatedly ran into academic and conditioning problems. His loss was not a major blow to the Deacs, mainly because the staff factored his potential absence into their practice plans long ago. Offensive lineman Craig Jones, a part-time starter and potentially important player this fall, missed spring practice and is suspended for the first three games of the season for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Rather than getting into specifics of such cases when speaking with the media, Wake coach Jim Grobe likes to lump various transgressions of a similar variety into one category: “being a knothead.”
  • Injuries hit hard early. Offensive tackle Mark Moroz, a returning starter, will miss one or two games with a knee injury. Fellow linemen Joe Salsich (broken hand) and Chad Rebar (leg) also missed time in August. Linebacker Jason Pratt broke his hand, while exciting wideout Willie Idlette and promising rookie defensive end Jyles Tucker missed more than a week with ankle problems. The injuries to the line, plus Jones' suspension, were particularly important, as Grobe likes to play as many as 10 blockers in the rotation. He'll start with only two who have seen significant time, and he spent much of the preseason talking about how the Deacons were struggling at what he called the program's “bread and butter” position.
  • More players than usual were on the move. Jamil Smith went from the defensive line to the offensive line and back to defense in a matter of days. Other moves since last season or this spring: Bryan Andrews from linebacker to defensive end; Napolean Sykes from running back to defensive back; Dominic Anderson from defensive back to running back; Obi Chukwumah from defensive back to linebacker; Robert Simmons from cornerback to free safety; Daniel Orlebar from the defensive line to the offensive line. “Our coaches don't like it, and I don't like it,” Grobe said. “We don't ever want to start Wednesday practice with a guy at one position, and then a week later end up with him someplace else. But I think that's where we are right now.”
  • All of Wake's recruiting class reported on time, meaning every player in Grobe's two recruiting classes is on the roster. Tucker, part of Grobe's first class, spent a season at Hargrave Military Academy before joining the Deacons this fall. Hopes are high that he will be able step in and help a decimated defensive line. Three freshmen weren't ready for August drills: offensive lineman Brodie Overstreet (eye surgery), defensive end Matt Robinson and defensive end Zachary Stukes (shoulder surgery).
  • Offensive coordinator Troy Calhoun left for the Denver Broncos, putting Steed Lobotzke, who coached guards and centers last season, in charge of a unit that led the ACC in rushing for the last two years. Lobotzke will have to mentally mesh quickly with new starting QB Cory Randolph, as Wake plays a no-huddle offense. The coach also must figure out a way to make defenses show more respect for the pass. “My biggest disappointment is we haven't had more big plays in the throwing game,” Grobe said. “Whenever you run the ball as well as we've been able to run it, you'd like to think that once in a while you'd catch people on their heels, catch them sleeping and be able to get behind them.”
  • On the “disappointing” list heading into the season opener: Randolph, though blessed with a strong arm, was very scattershot and had too many balls batted down in preseason drills. Offensive lineman Wesley Bryant, a Florida transfer who was highly recruited out of high school, has been inconsistent. Fullback Damon McWhite, a redshirt freshman, is too heavy. That, combined with Staton's troubles, left Nick Burney at fullback. Burney has never been a blocking back, and he lost reps last season for being too soft on short-yardage carries.