Receivers Hope to Fill Big Shoes in 2014
April 24, 2014
By Emma Lingan, WakeForestSports.com
With a void left by record-setting wide receiver Michael Campanaro, there has been much speculation about what the Wake Forest receiving corps will look like in 2014. There are several young players who showed promise last season, as well as some newer additions to the team.
As the Demon Deacons head into the final days of spring football, much of the focus continues to be on installing the new offense.
"It's a new offense," said sophomore Jared Crump. "I think we were kind of nervous at first, but we have meetings every day and take time to put [plays] in the new playbooks the coaches have for us."
Crump played in 11 games in 2013 and finished with 16 receptions for 176 yards. He is one of several young or new players at virtually every offensive skill position who are using spring practice as an opportunity to grow and develop.
"We're ready to get after it," said graduate transfer E.J. Scott. "We've been working hard. We're taking advantage of these 15 practices."
Scott, who transferred to Wake Forest after the 2013 season, played three seasons at Virginia, where he caught 32 passes for 420 yards and also returned kicks. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies as he plays his final year of eligibility with the Demon Deacons.
"The guys here welcomed me with open arms since day one," Scott said. "They are all about winning, and I couldn't have come into a better situation. Every guy here welcomed me, and I feel like I've been here forever now even though it's only been a semester."
Another important new arrival prior to the 2014 season has been the team's coaching staff, led by first-year head coach Dave Clawson.
"These coaches are intense," Scott said. "They definitely want to win, so they're getting after it and you've got to love that. They're getting us ready for every situation in practice, and they're very detailed. They're great coaches putting a great game plan together, so I can't wait until the fall to get back on the field with these guys."
The new coaches have set high standards for the players during spring practice, instilling in them a revitalized passion for winning games.
"They're very high tempo," Crump said. "All of our practices are very upbeat. The coaches are very energetic, which rubs off on us and gets us motivated to come out here and really want to practice."
For a relatively new receiving corps, the prospect of becoming a championship-caliber team might seem daunting at first. Yet Crump, who saw significant playing time last season while Campanaro was sidelined with a broken collarbone, gained some valuable experience under the guidance of Wake Forest's all-time career receptions leader.
"Camp was always there, even if he wasn't playing in the game," Crump said. "He was telling me what to look for."
Knowing he is much more likely to start this season has not affected Crump's mindset in practice. Despite his prior experience, he constantly strives to raise the bar.
"I know that my spot's not secure at any point, so I know that I really have to get out there every practice and make a statement even though I played last year," Crump said. "It's a new year with a new coaching staff. They're reevaluating us, so I really have to get out there knowing that anything can happen at any time."
The receivers face the added pressure of providing a security blanket for whichever new quarterback is selected for the starting spot in 2014. Crump plans to use his combination of speed and size (6-3) to help his team at the wide out position.
"Your number can be called at any time," Crump said. "So you really have to step up and be the playmaker and make big time plays in big time games."
The Demon Deacon receiving corps may be relatively new, but it does not lack passion. The young and recent additions to the squad are prepared to step into their new roles as leaders of a developing offense.
"I just really want to do anything to help my team win, being on special teams, on offense, running the ball, catching the ball, anything," Crump said. "[I want to be] someone who's buying in and working hard and really helping my team to be successful."
Crump was also a key member of the Demon Deacon punt return team in 2013 and finished the season with 37 yards on punt returns, second only to Campanaro's 49.
"The coaches know what they're talking about," Crump said. "We're all just buying in. I think we're really going to get after it and understand the concept of the football and what each play means and just work together as a team."
The Demon Deacons will hold their annual spring game on Saturday, April 26 at 2 p.m. at BB&T Field. Though they are preparing to wrap up spring practice, they have their sights set on winning games in the fall.
"I couldn't be at a better place," Scott said. "There's a lot of great energy here with this new coaching staff. The guys and I are excited, and we can't wait to get out there this fall."