John Wolford to start for Wake
Wolford beat out Tyler Cameron and Kevin Sousa, who failed to impress new coach Dave Clawson during the spring and at the start of fall practice. When Wolford takes the field against Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 28, he will become the first true freshman to start his first game on campus at Wake Forest since Mike McGlamry against NC State on Sept. 7, 1974.
Clawson pointed to Wolford's performance in a Sunday scrimmage as the determining factor. Wolford outplayed his two competitors for the job, running for a 12-yard touchdown while finishing 7-for-14 for 122 yards and an interception.
"Not just last night in the scrimmage but consistently through camp, he has executed the offense at the highest level," Clawson said. "He gives us the best opportunity to win football games.
"We will try and redshirt players but if a freshman gives us the best chance to win, we're going to play him. It's not fair to the juniors and the seniors in the program to make a decision based on what's best five years from now. He gives us the best chance to win so we will now prepare him as our starting quarterback."
Wolford, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound freshman from Jacksonville, Florida, comes with a long list of high school accolades. He broke Tim Tebow's state touchdowns record and also set new Florida career records for passing yards and all-purpose touchdowns. He had an eye-popping 10 total touchdowns in the state semifinals his senior year.
After initially committing to East Carolina, Wolford backed out of his pledge and signed with Wake Forest, spurning scholarship offers from Mississippi State and Penn State.
Clawson wants to run a spread offense, and Wolford gives him the opportunity to do so right out of the gate. Cameron did not exactly fit the profile, and Sousa was converted from receiver to quarterback in the spring to help with depth at the position. When spring practice ended, Clawson said the competition remained open.
Wolford does have some big shoes to fill from an experience standpoint, replacing a four-year starter in Tanner Price.
Price also started as a true freshman, making his debut three weeks into the season. He never lost the starting job.
"You always prefer to have experience at that position and you always prefer to have somebody who has had snaps in game situations, but we were going to be starting a brand new quarterback no matter who we played," Clawson said.