Greensboro, NC - Wake Forest finished last season with a disappointing 5-7 (3-5 ACC) record; however, with the 2013 campaign only 39 days away the excitement of a fresh start is beginning to arise in Winston-Salem.
Demon Deacon redshirt senior wide receiver Michael Campanaro and redshirt senior outside linebacker Justin Jackson discussed pre-season expectations and more with members of the media at the 42nd annual Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff.
Camp you've seen Tanner Price as an athlete and as a leader. How has that connection grown between the two of you? "It's grown since day one. It seems like yesterday when we first started throwing in seven-on-seven right when we got there. Now, we're seniors and leaders of this offense. We know what we're capable of and we're just working on bringing everyone together on offense and just getting some more points up on the board and playing well."
"He's doing good. I don't think he had the year he wanted to have last year. We had a lot of injuries up front, but he's looking to have a big year this year. He's very excited, and as a team we're really excited to see what he's going to do."
I think a lot was made with how you guys finished last year and how Wake has finished the last couple of years, kind of leaking a little bit of oil. Talk a little about how may changing that toward the end of the year. Jackson: "Well, I think we all know that we didn't finish the way we wanted to the last few seasons. I think it's just that we need to make sure we are focusing on winning toward the end of the season."
"I think we've hit a few bumps in the road toward the end of the season like last season when we had a few guys get into trouble and injuries that hit us toward the end of the season, so if we can try to get these people healthy and out of trouble then that will help."
Campanaro: "Yeah, I think also having some good leadership, which we have this year, guys having experience and knowing that we have to be all in for these last few games. I know we've been through a tough season, but just bringing younger guys along, keeping everyone focused for those last three, four games and just know what it means for our season."
"We didn't play well last year and we could've gone to a bowl game, which would've been huge for the program. This year I think we definitely have a different mindset and mentality going on around this team right now, so I think you'll see a different Deac team."
Mike, can you about the focus that you have or have had since the spring game and just going into this season as far as you shut down your Twitter account and just kind of having this type of focus that I've never seen out of you? "Yeah, I think this is the senior year and coming off some ankle surgery definitely wanted to get focused and just get back to 100-percent, but I think this team there's something special going and since I've been to school I haven't I seen a team have this type of work-ethic that we've had this off-season together and guys competing."
"Just myself I've been working hard, and I think it's rubbing off on other guys. It's going to be a special team. We're definitely focused on winning [the] ACC Championship. That's the goal around the locker room. We know we think we got the players in there. We got the talent to do it. We just got to keep working hard."
Mike, you had 36 more catches than the next closest wide receiver on Wake missed basically three games, two complete games and a big chunk of another. Can you discuss the dynamic between wanting to be the go-to-guy and wanting to be a huge part of the offense, but also the need for someone else to step up and take some of the pressure off of you? And can you give us some insight as to who that guy might be this year? "I think in my room guys aren't shying away from hearing that and reading that. They know we need another receiver to step up and play."
"I challenged guys in the room that we need someone else to come in and catch 60, 70 balls. They've been working hard. We got guys that are capable of playing big. I think the biggest thing is being consistent. We can't have dropped balls out there. Guys got to be making plays, just challenging those guys."
"They've been responding well. There's a group of guys that have been working hard. We've been playing on seven-on-seven. I've seen great things out of Brandon Terry. He looks like a beast out there, and I think of people don't know about him is he played last year with a big cast on his hand and he missed all of training camp with an eye injury, so he was kind of out of shape, but right now he's got his hand free and he's been working hard. I think he's going to step up big for us."
"Another guy, Matt James, who was injured last year, I think he's really grown up and I think he can step into maybe that number two spot that you were talking about. I think he can catch 60, 70 balls for us. His ceiling for potential is very high. We're expecting some big things out of him and some other receivers this year to help out."
Stay tuned to Deacons Illustrated for part II of the ACC Kickoff Q-&-A with Campanaro and Jackson.