Top 10 returning players at Wake Forest led by QB Sam Hartman and WR A.T. Perry

The top 10 returning players at Wake Forest are headlined by the ACC's top QB/WR duo in Sam Hartman and A.T. Perry.

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons were a few pays short of the ACC Championship last season. Their offense returns the ability to put up points in bunches, and their defense has stout college football players returning. Just who are Wake Forest’s top 10 returning players, and what can you expect from them in 2022? An ACC Championship is certainly the benchmark for success with this unit.

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Top 10 returning players at Wake Forest

We’re counting down all the top 10 players returning to action on every team — we’ll deal with transfers later — from Air Force to Wyoming, from Miami to Hawaii, and all in between. Here are the top returning players to Wake Forest.

10) Donovan Greene, WR

You may not remember, but Donovan Greene was set up for big things after two great years in 2019 and 2020. He missed the 2021 season with an injury and returns to fill the void left by Jaquarii Roberson. Pairing with A.T. Perry, Greene can use his size and fluidity through his routes to create natural separation. He has great hands and should be a favorite target of his quarterbacks.

9) Sean Maginn, G

This offensive line returns four of their five full-time starters from last year. Sean Maginn is back after starting 32 career games at left guard and two at center. A dependable asset for this offensive scheme, Maginn logged more than 100 snaps in three different outings last year. Playing that much and keeping his level of play at such a high level is inspiring.

8) Ryan Smenda Jr., LB

Finishing with 83 total tackles, Ryan Smenda Jr. was all over the field for Wake last season. Smenda brought down 43 solo tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss. His underneath coverage skills were tested, but he certainly made opposing quarterbacks pay with multiple plays on the ball. When he blitzed, Smenda was getting home with pressure too. He’s an all-around threat.

7) Michael Jurgens, C

Returning to man the middle yet again, Michael Jurgens was dominant in his first season as the full-time starter at center. He’s a long lineman at 6’4″, yet he makes it work with his quick first step and great hand speed. Jurgens understands leverage and uses it to separate himself from defenders to create an anchor. He’s a potential All-American candidate this season if he continues the growth he showcased last season.

6) Loic Ngassam Nya, G

If you haven’t heard yet, remember the name Loic Ngassam Nya. He’s made 25 career starts at both guard positions but looks right at home on the right side. Ngassam Nya has arguably the highest ceiling of any offensive linemen at Wake Forest as the big man from Cameroon started playing football in just his junior season of high school. He’s a great pass protector but excels when he’s able to get out in front of the running backs.

5) Nick Andersen, S

What a career it has been so far for Nick Andersen. After ranking eighth nationally in interceptions during the 2020 season, Andersen made his way to the football on multiple occasions in 2021. If he wasn’t intercepting or breaking up passes, he was forcing incompletions or keeping the receivers to no yards after the catch in what was a terrific display of tackling and coverage skills. Andersen is also an excellent closer of space in the open field, both in run defense and in coverage.

4) DeVonte Gordon, OT

The fourth offensive linemen in the top 10 returning players for Wake Forest is their dependable right tackle DeVonte Gordon. After earning Freshman All-American honors last season, Gordon is back to continue to showcase what makes him such a special player. He’s dominant in pass protection and, like many others on this line, even better when it’s time to grind out yards on the ground. Gordon’s a mean man on the ground and can find defenders to plant at the first, second, or third level with little trouble.

3) Rondell Bothroyd, EDGE

With 16.5 tackles for loss, Rondell Bothroyd was a monster in the backfield for Wake. He ripped through tackles like a knife through warm butter. Bothroyd finished with eight sacks and two forced fumbles as he had a knack for finding the ball and separating it from the ball carrier. No tackle was a match for Bothroyd as he was able to move all around the edge to find his favorable pass-rushing matchup. Additionally, he possesses an incredibly high motor that saw him routinely bring down ball carriers from behind.

2) A.T. Perry, WR

Receivers with A.T. Perry’s size shouldn’t be able to move the way he does. And it isn’t just the speed that Perry has. It’s the elusiveness, the quicks, and the ridiculous body control. If Perry isn’t blowing by defenders on his routes, he’s creating separation with a burst to the football. Perry also has body control that is unrivaled in the ACC. He’s a threat in the red zone, in the open field, and at every single level. Perry is the real deal.

1) Sam Hartman, QB

There isn’t much more to say about the historic Sam Hartman. It seems like forever ago that Hartman was battling Jamie Newman for starting reps in this offense because of how well he’s run it since taking over. Hartman gives Wake a chance to win seemingly every game due to his command over the offense and his ability to find every level of the field with his arm.

He can make every throw, spot his receivers open, create separation with his accuracy, and is a threat with his legs. Hartman is the do-it-all quarterback who holds the program record with 72 career passing touchdowns and is in the top five among the program’s best in a bevy of other quarterback categories.

Honorable mention players returning to Wake Forest in 2022

  • Gavin Holmes, CB
  • Caelen Carson, CB
  • Taylor Morin, WR
  • Ke’Shawn Williams, WR
  • Justice Ellison, RB
  • Christian Turner, RB

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