The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are set to be highly influential in the 2023 NFL Draft with their amount of prospects. Led by quarterback Sam Hartman, the Deacs may even challenge for ACC supremacy in 2022.
Wake Forest prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft
Taking a look through their roster with a focus on their draft-eligible prospects sheds light on just how experienced this Wake Forest team is. As mentioned, they’re led by Hartman, but they have veterans across the board at nearly every position ready to compete for the ACC crown.
Sam Hartman, QB
Hartman has displayed an ability to hit every level of the field for the past four seasons at Wake Forest. After weathering the Jamie Newman storm that saw him split snaps in 2019, he’s orchestrated two very successful seasons in 2020 and 2021. Hartman is back for a final year with the Deacs and ready to build off a 39-touchdown performance a season ago. He’s not the biggest quarterback in terms of arm strength, but he understands defenses enough at this stage in his career to know when to layer or punch throws in. Hartman makes noteworthy football throws across the field and has terrific accuracy when he’s on his game.
Christian Turner, RB
In Christian Turner’s first season with Wake Forest, he flashed brilliance at times. After transferring from Michigan following the 2019 season, the Wake Forest backfield is finally Turner’s for the taking in 2022. He has elusiveness and vision in his game, as well as the strength to bully his way for extra yards.
A.T. Perry, WR
A master at the catch point, A.T. Perry recorded a ridiculous 15 receiving touchdowns a season ago. He showcased an ability to take games over — most notably against Florida State — and proved that he could win both at the catch point and after it. There may not be a better red-zone threat in college football as Perry also possesses elite body control along the sidelines.
Returning to the action after sitting out in 2021 with an injury, Donavon Greene will look to build on his terrific redshirt freshman season of 2020. Greene was a magician after the catch in 2020 and averaged over 20 yards per reception. He also chips in with terrific return skills as he was on the Paul Hornung Watch List a year ago prior to sitting out. It’s hard to imagine Greene is also 6’2″ and 210 pounds as he has the elusiveness of a smaller man.
Taylor Morin, WR
Somehow, Taylor Morin wins contested catches like its job. Maybe because it is his job, but that’s beside the point. Morin is just 5’10” and 176 pounds, but with his ability at the catch point, he’s never out of the equation on the receiving end of Hartman’s passes. Morin can improve his separation skills without relying on those contested catches. In doing so, he would improve his draft status.
Blake Whiteheart, TE
A big threat over the middle of the field, Blake Whiteheart is a terrific safety blanket for Hartman. He has sure hands and an ability to win as an inline tight end. Whiteheart also provides plus-blocking skills in both facets.
Jaeger Bull, TE
Incoming from Rice, Jaeger Bull is set to put his all-around skills to the test for Wake Forest this season. Bull is a proven blocker and red-zone threat as he was used sparingly in the receiving game at Rice. A dominant run blocker, however, Bull’s biggest impact may come in the tertiary facet for a tight end nowadays.
DeVonte Gordon, OT
Likely kicking to the left side to make up for the departure of Zach Tom, DeVonte Gordon is in line to be the next Demon Deac to hear his name called from the offensive line. Gordon is a big man with a solid foundation. Yet, he’s much more nimble than a man standing 6’5″ and 303 pounds should be. With strength and athleticism, Gordon can put himself on the map this season.
Sean Maginn, G
At a nimble 298 pounds, Sean Maginn returns for what will be his sixth season at Wake Forest. He has 32 career starts, including two games at center a season ago. His versatility will pay dividends in the NFL, as will his durability. On three occasions a season ago, Maginn played at least 100 snaps in a single game.
Michael Jurgens, C
A student of the game, Michael Jurgens is set to once again lead the charge for the Deacs’ offensive line in 2022. With sound skills in the run game, Jurgens is at his best on the move. He also has good footwork in the pass-blocking realm and should be on the shortlist for the Rimington Trophy this season.
Loic Ngassam Nya, G
Versatility is the name of his game as Loic Ngassam Nya has started 25 contests in his career and at each guard position. Ngassam Nya is a terrific mover in space and uses his athleticism very well on the ground. He also has an underrated strength to his game, and he uses that well to keep Hartman clean more often than not.
Je’Vionte’ Nash, OT
Returning to the line after missing 2021 with an injury, Je’Vionte’ Nash is back to lock down the right side for Wake Forest. With great length, Nash is solid in pass protection. But it pales in comparison to his ability on the move in the run game. He can move quickly but with great intentions in the run game, constantly getting out in front of the ball carrier to carve big rushing lanes.
Rondell Bothroyd, EDGE
A terrific pass rusher, Rondell Bothroyd broke out a season ago. He’s dominant with his hand in the dirt, firing off the ball with ease. Bothroyd came on strong down the stretch of the season and was overmatched by no tackle. There’s a strength to his game as well as a speedy athleticism that allows him to win against all types.
Jasheen Davis, EDGE
After a dominant season, Jasheen Davis should be on everyone’s radar this year. Davis is incredibly athletic with a sound foundation. There’s plenty of the proverbial bend to his game but also an unmatched strength for his frame at 6’3″ and 253 pounds. Additionally, he shuts down rushing lanes just as well.
Jacorey Johns, EDGE
Though he was limited a season ago, Jacorey Johns is the third of the dominant pass rushers Wake Forest possesses this fall. Johns — like his teammates on the edge — has prototypical size at 6’4″ and 259 pounds. He also owns a terrific motor and way back in his freshman season of 2019 actually showed an ability to play a versatile role of dropping back in coverage as well as rushing the passer.
Dion Bergan Jr., DT
The big man on the inside, Dion Bergan Jr. is a massive man for interior linemen to contend with. He has great strength and plenty of balance through contact. He’s rarely out of position and has better instincts to find the point of attack in the run game.
Kobie Turner, DT
One of the biggest transfer pickups in the country, Kobie Turner was a highly sought-after FCS to FBS transfer from Richmond this past offseason. Turner is a big man but moves like a much more nimble edge rusher at times. He has a size and speed combination that may be unrivaled in the ACC as well. After high-level production over the past three seasons at Richmond, that kind of success at Wake Forest will vault him into the NFL draft picture.
Tyler Williams, DT
Limited a season ago, Tyler Williams has a documented success at rushing the passer from the inside. He’s got a few pass rush moves to resort to, but his strength is one of his biggest assets. Williams will throw blockers aside with ease while maintaining his vision in the backfield to back the quarterback up in the pocket.
Chase Jones, LB
A do-it-all threat from the middle, Chase Jones is out to prove he’s not just the other Wake Forest linebacker to know. Jones has speed as well as read-and-react ability in the run game. He’s also never out of it in coverage, as his athleticism allows him to stay with a variety of pass catchers in the receiving game.
Ryan Smenda Jr., LB
One of the nation’s top returning linebackers, Ryan Smenda Jr. is back for his fifth season with the Deacs. Smenda is a talented linebacker in all facets. Whether he’s disguising his blitz or dropping in coverage, quarterbacks are determined to know where he is at all times. He also has the ability to shut down rushing lanes with his elusiveness from blockers. Smenda is on the shortlist for all the defensive awards for good reason.
Chelen Garnes, S
Playing Wake’s “ROVER” role, Chelen Garnes is a linebacker-sized safety. He has the ability to run the alley like a linebacker when he’s lined up in the box or roam free and close off space in the passing game when he’s out. Hailing from Navy, his ability to pick up the defense should pay dividends in a featured role in the defense this season.
Caelen Carson, CB
When Caelen Carson is on his game, he’s a lockdown option on the boundary for Wake Forest. Limited to just nine games a year ago, Carson is back in 2022, looking to pick up where he left off. It’s nearly impossible for quarterbacks to complete passes in his coverage as he plays a stick brand of football. He has speed and size as well as plenty of athleticism to stay with even the quickest receivers he’ll face.
Gavin Holmes, CB
Another lockdown cornerback for the Deacs, Gavin Holmes pairs with Carson to shut down ACC passing attacks once again this fall. Holmes, though a bit undersized, has enough of a closing burst to never be out of it even against the biggest of receivers he’ll face. There’s a tenacity in his game, and it pays off against the run as well.
Nick Andersen, S
It was a dominant year for Nick Andersen a season ago. He roams the defense with ease and ripped off multiple plays in coverage in doing so. Andersen closes space in the run game and shuts off short or intermediate passes in coverage all the same.
Coby Davis, S
Limited over the past two seasons, Coby Davis is a terrific defensive back when healthy. Allowed to play in the box as a slot corner or strong safety is key to his game as he can use his strength both in coverage or against the run very well. He had his first interception a season ago despite playing in just four games before injury shut him down.