The spring practice period has finally arrived in Winston-Salem, as Wake Forest will kick it off Tuesday, March 19.
This spring however is no ordinary one. The Demon Deacons while they are a veteran bunch still have some voids to fill, and will be practicing over the next five weeks without some of its key players.
Deacons Illustrated goes through some of the key position battles that may not even be settled until the end of fall camp.
Offensive Line …
If Jonathan Himebauch thought he had it rough dealing with the injuries and inexperience up front in his first season as Wake's offensive line coach he knows the challenges will continue into spring practice and fall camp.
Himebauch must replace a three-year starter in center Garrick Williams. The leading candidates for the job entering the spring are Whit Barnes and Cody Preble, but look for Cory Helms to get his shot when he steps on campus as a true freshman this fall.
The Demon Deacons may be without left tackle Steven Chase, left guard/tackle Antonio Ford and right tackle Colin Summers this spring. Chase is recovering from a torn ACL, while Ford is rehabbing a broken leg and Summers is out indefinitely with what appears to be a blood disorder that puts his playing career in jeopardy.
Right guard Frank Souza and right tackle Dylan Intemann will be the most experienced among Wake's returning offensive linemen entering spring practice. Redshirt freshmen offensive guard Ty Hayworth and offensive tackles Will Smith and Joel Suggs and redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Hunter Goodwin complete the group.
Wake Forest was smart and fortunate to sign Taylor Chambers, Cameron Gardner, Josh Harris and Helms last month. These incoming freshmen will add some much-needed bodies to battle in the trenches.
Picking the slack up at receiver …
Before a broken hand knocked kept him out of two games Michael Campanaro was on pace for a record-setting season in 2012. The senior from Maryland will again be Price's top target after catching 152 passes for 1,596 yards and eight touchdowns the previous two years combined.
The Demon Deacons need other guys in the receiving corps to step and alleviate some pressure from Campanaro. Sherman Ragland and Brandon Terry would be a nice start.
Both have been outstanding at times, but Wake will need more than flashes this season. Jared Crump and Jonathan Williams will add size to a developing group of receivers. The Deacs are hopeful Orville Reynolds and Airyn Willis can also jump into the mix.
Tanner's backup …
Let's be honest there are only a few things certain in this life … death, taxes, Jesus is coming back someday and Tanner Price will be Wake Forest's starting quarterback for a fourth and final year.
What Tom Elrod must do is decide who will back up Price. Patrick Thompson, Kevin Sousa and Tyler Cameron are the leading candidates.
Though his playing time has been limited to late-game mop-up duty Thompson has the most experience and maybe the best grasp of the offense of the three, while Sousa and Cameron offer the physical tools.
Cameron, who enrolled at Wake Forest in January 2012, had shoulder surgery shortly after his arrival on campus. The redshirt freshman from Jupiter, Fla. should be full speed, and is likely the quarterback of the future after Price leaves.
Running Back …
This rushing load was shared last season and will likely be split again between Josh Harris and DeAndre Martin, but they will nonetheless battle it out for the leading role.
Harris and Martin combined for 265 carries for 1,092 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Redshirt freshman Joshua Wilhite will also be competing for touches.
Tight End/H-Back/Fullback …
The big question is who will Steed Lobotzke replace Tommy Bohanon with? Lobotzke will likely have to do it by committee, as Bohanon did it all.
The four-year starter played fullback, H-Back and tight end.
Spencer Bishop returns as the starting tight end, but in no way is his name cemented on the depth chart. Redshirt freshmen Zach Gordon and Anthony Rook, while upperclassmen Neil Basford, Jordan Pineda and Daniel Vogelsang will also be competing for reps.
Rook brings versatility as a player who can lineup with his hand in the dirt, split out as a receiver or in the backfield as a fullback.