NCF Nation: Zachary Allen

Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price is the Demon Deacons' returning starter, but all five quarterbacks had a chance to make their case on Saturday in the second spring scrimmage. Price, Brendan Cross, Ted Stachitas, Patrick Thompson and redshirt freshman Keenon Rush each had at least one completion of 35 yards or longer in the hour-long scrimmage. Each of the top four quarterbacks either accounted for a scoring drive or drove the team into field goal range.

Offensive highlights:
  • Lovell Jackson scored on a 65-yard swing pass from Cross.
  • Brandon Pendergrass scored on a 12-yard run and led all rushers with 52 yard on four carries, including a 34-yard run.
  • Price drove the Deacons to the 11 and 29 while Stachitas had a drive that ended at the 9. Thompson led Wake to the 1 before a fumble at the goal line.
  • Michael Campanaro led all receivers with six receptions for 77 yards. Jackson had five catches for a team-high 91 yards while Matt James finished the scrimmage with 67 yards on three receptions.
Defensive highlights:
  • Zachary Allen, Riley Haynes and Mike Olson all recorded sacks during the scrimmage.
  • Kris Redding and Gelo Orange each recovered fumbles.
Quotable: “Last season doesn’t cut it,” coach Jim Grobe said of delivering a message to his players. “It’s not like we have a season like we had last year, we can’t all get together at Chuck E. Cheese and hand out trophies. At this level, it just doesn’t happen and our guys have to understand it. If you don’t practice, it’s going to be hard for us to be a good football team. We have to have durable and dependable guys.”
One question I get asked almost weekly is who the new stars will be in the ACC this year -- players who aren’t household names right now, but have a legitimate chance to play their way into your living room conversations this season. Right off the bat, I’ll tell you most of them aren’t true freshmen. Unless they’re at the top of the depth chart this spring (as in the unusual case of Miami’s Thomas Finnie), there’s no way to tell how much of an impact, if any, they’ll have. The redshirt freshmen, first-year starters and junior college players are the ones most likely to truly leave a lasting impression. And while you might be familiar with some of these names, the rest of the college football world likely isn’t.

Here are this season’s group of rising stars in the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE: CB C.J. Jones. The Eagles are looking for a starter to replace the spot manned by both Chris Fox and DeLeon Gause last season. Jones earned time as a backup and played in 12 games with 16 tackles.

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
AP Photo/Patrick CollardTajh Boyd will get his shot at being the full-time starter at Clemson.
CLEMSON: QB Tajh Boyd. This one was tough because there are a lot of familiar names returning on Clemson's roster, and most of the incoming class won't arrive until summer camp. So we'll go with the one new starter the rest of the college football world will be introduced to. Boyd will be tasked with leading Clemson in a new offense in his first season as full-time starter.

DUKE: WR Brandon Braxton. He played sparingly last year as a true freshman (14 receptions, 180 yards, 1 TD) and has established himself as the No. 3 receiver, replacing Austin Kelly.

FLORIDA STATE: JUCO transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug. He’s the heir apparent on the offensive line to Rodney Hudson and the coaches have raved about him.

GEORGIA TECH: CB Ryan Ayers. The redshirt freshman can compete with anyone on the team for the title of fastest player on the roster. With the Jackets losing all four starters in the secondary, he becomes an important part of the equation.

MARYLAND: PK Nathaniel Renfro or Nick Ferrara. The Terps lost a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, and this is one of Maryland’s biggest areas of concern. Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. Renfro joins the team this summer.

MIAMI: CB Thomas Finnie. The Miami Central grad enrolled in January and has been listed as a starter on coach Al Golden’s first two depth charts. He had 45 tackles and one interception as a high school senior.

NORTH CAROLINA: JUCO transfer Sylvester Williams. He enrolled at Carolina in January after two seasons at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College He had 52 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and five blocked kicks in 2010. He could contribute immediately as a starting defensive tackle.

NC STATE: LB D.J. Green. He played mostly on special teams and some at safety last year, but has been listed as a starting linebacker for spring workouts.

VIRGINIA: WR Miles Gooch. He made the switch this spring from quarterback to receiver and could be a dependable option this fall behind the two most productive returners, Kris Burd and Matt Snyder. With Burd and Tim Smith (still recovering from his fall surgery) limited this spring, Gooch will get a lot of work catching passes and learning routes as he makes the position switch. He has been a big, physical, athletic receiver this spring, and depending on how several incoming freshmen develop, Gooch can find himself in the rotation.

VIRGINIA TECH: DE Zack McCray. He enters the spring at the No. 2 spot, but the staff likes his potential. The redshirt freshman was listed as the No. 35 defensive end in his class by ESPN’s Scouts Inc.

WAKE FOREST: OLB Zachary Allen. The true freshman from Pahokee, Fla., has made an immediate impression on the staff since enrolling in January. He had 53 tackles, six sacks and a pair of interceptions as a high school senior.

Recruiting rewind: Wake Forest

February, 4, 2010
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Anyone who has been following Wake Forest football for the past few years knows exactly what coach Jim Grobe means when he says that his 2010 recruiting class is “a typical Wake Forest class.” Translated: It’s not going to get a lot of national attention, there aren’t a lot of stars or flashy names, but somehow, eventually, they’ll develop into players with the potential to, say, beat Florida State three years in a row.

What’s different about this year’s class is that the Deacs have finally struck some balance, with about half the class expected to contribute on offense and the other on defense.

“For years we were always trying to play catch-up on one side of the ball or another, bringing in a class that was loaded on offense or loaded on defense,” Grobe said. “That’s been a problem for us since we’ve been here. We’ve been a little bit better on one side of the ball or another for a while, and I’d like to get to the point where we have a similar number of seniors on each side of the football and that’s what we were able to do a little bit in this class. We’re getting to point now where our recruiting classes are not weighted on offense or defense, we’re a little more balanced, which I like.”

Wake Forest filled its need at defensive back, where it added four players, and Grobe said it’s possible a true freshman could see playing time there. Cornerback A.J. Marshall is the lone four-star recruit in the group. The staff has also been impressed with early enrollees Antonio Ford and Zachary Allen. Quarterback Tanner Price of Austin, Texas, will also be given a chance to compete right away.

“With Riley [Skinner] gone, certainly we’d like to see one of our kids who have been here earn the job, but I don’t think you can count Tanner out,” Grobe said.

It’s also possible that the Deacs could sneak a new face into the offensive line rotation. Going into spring practice, Russ Nenon had shoulder surgery and won’t be available, leaving only nine offensive linemen available. Wake added three in this class.

“We’re to the point now where if a kid is good enough to come in and help us, we’re not opposed to putting him on the field,” Grobe said. “We just don’t want to waste his eligibility.”

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