The top 10 Wake Forest football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
LB Marquel Lee, Sr.
After back-to-back solid seasons, Lee is on the verge of becoming an all-league performer. He’s very active as a run defender and a pass rusher, notching 71 tackles, a team-high 10 stops for loss and three sacks in 2015. Unlike most of the Deacon defenders, Lee has no shortage of desired measurables, from his 6-3, 240-pound frame to his closing speed. He’ll again be the player jumping off the Wake Forest film in the fall.
TE Cam Serigne, Jr.
Serigne continues to be Wake Forest’s steadiest all-around offensive performer. The two-year starter is like having an additional wide receiver on the field, though he won’t contribute much as a run blocker. The 6-3, 240-pound Serigne has been among the Deacons’ leading receivers the past two seasons, hauling in 46 balls for 562 yards and four touchdowns in 2015. While not flashy, he simply runs good routes and catches whatever is thrown in his direction.
S Ryan Janvion, Sr.
Janvion has been an absolute rock for Wake Forest, starting all but a single game over the past three seasons. He tied for second on the 2015 squad with 72 stops, though tempo-changing plays were less common than they were two years ago. Janvion is only 5-11 and 195 pounds, but he plays much bigger, and his instincts and feel for the game ensure that he’s never far from the ball.
CB Brad Watson, Sr.
Watson was a very pleasant surprise for the Deacons a year ago. After spending the first half of his career coming off the bench, he bloomed into a steady starter at cornerback. Watson has good size, 6-0 and 200 pounds, and breaks well on the ball, leading the team with two interceptions and 16 pass breakups. Plus, he’s a willing run defender, ranking second on the team with 72 tackles, all of which could lead to looks from pro scouts.
DE Duke Ejiofor, Jr.
No one on defense finished the season stronger than Ejiofor, who played like a man possessed after returning from a concussion. He was routinely dominant off the edge for the Deacons, racking up 28 tackles, 7.5 stops for loss and 4.5 sacks in a little more than half a season. Ejiofor is Wake Forest’s best pass rusher, and at 6-4 and 270 pounds he has also has the size to support the run and attract the attention of all-league voters.
QB John Wolford, Jr.
Yes, Wolford still needs to win this job, as athletic Kendall Hinton digs in and mounts a serious challenge. But in an offense as challenged as Wake Forest’s, it remains a luxury to harbor a quarterback with two seasons of starting experience. There is no doubt room for improvement in the passing numbers, which last year were 142-of-233 for 1,791 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 picks. But the 6-1, 205-pound Wolford knows the system, is calm under pressure and can make things happen with his feet.
WR Cortez Lewis, Soph.
For the first time since Michael Campanaro graduated, Wake Forest feels it has No. 1 receiver in the passing game. In his first season of action, Lewis led the team with 47 receptions for 611 yards and four touchdowns. And he improved as the season unfolded. The sophomore combines size, 6-1 and 200 pounds, and speed to give the Deacons a true deep threat on the outside.
DT Josh Banks, Sr.
True, Banks had an off year in 2015, a situation complicated by injuries. But Wake Forest knows what it has in the 6-4, 280-pounder who was named honorable mention All-ACC two years ago. Banks slides well and gets off the snap quickly, allowing him to beat his man to the backfield. With a healthy finale, he has the tools to blow past last season’s 24 tackles, two stops for loss and a sack.
DE Wendell Dunn, Jr.
Dunn brings versatility and a burst of energy off the edge. At 6-3 and 250 pounds, he can perform many of the duties of a defensive end as well as an outside linebacker. In fact, the Miami native was originally recruited to play on the second level, but has found a home at the hybrid DROP position in Winston-Salem. Quick to the backfield, Dunn collected 35 tackles, 7.5 stops for loss and a sack a year ago.
WR Tabari Hines, Soph.
The career of Hines is off and running in Winston-Salem. And the Demon Deacons are thrilled to have access to his playmaking ability. The slight 5-10, 165-pound flanker finished fifth on last year’s squad with 32 receptions for 366 yards and three touchdowns, gradually getting accustomed to the speed of the game. Hines should be more dangerous in his second season on campus.