Wake Forest opens spring ball, a healthy Greg Dortch sets sights on 2018

Two weeks back, Conor O’Neill published a terrific piece at the Winston-Salem Journal on Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch, and his recovery back from a season-ending injury. I suggest you check out that piece if you haven’t already done so; the story of Dortch playing through an injury against Louisville that would ultimately cost him the final five games of the 2017 is pretty incredible.

However, I’d like to take a quick second to acknowledge just how impressive of a season Dortch had in Winston-Salem.


Catch Magnet

Greg Dortch stands just 5-foot-9, but in terms of toughness and efficiency, he’s a giant. According to Football Study Hall, Dortch was targeted 74 times last season — 9.3 per game, which was tops on Wake Forest. Despite missing the final five games, Dortch finished the season third on Wake’s roster in total targets (17.9 percent). Tabari Hines (79) and Scotty Washington (76) barely outpaced the target-magnet.

Dortch hauled in 53 of those 74 targets for a catch rate of 71.6 percent, which is outstanding. On a high-volume of targets, that 70 percent benchmark is elite. As a freshman, Dortch averaged 9.9 yards per target, too, which demonstrates his combination of efficiency and explosiveness.


In wonderful company

In total, Greg Dortch finished with 53 receptions for 722 yards (13.6 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns. Again, Dortch missed the final two months of the season, but he was the only ACC receiver to record at least 50 receptions for 700 yards and eight touchdowns.

Dating back to the 2000 season, the only other Wake Forest receiver to hit those benchmarks is Chris Givens — in the 2011 season.

Dortch is joined in this class (since 2000), though, by a plethora of ridiculously good ACC wideouts: Calvin Johnson (2006), Kelvin Benjamin (2013), Jamison Crowder (2012-13), Deandre Hopkins (2012), Sammy Watkins (2011, 2013) and Mike Williams (2016).

(Note: Clemson and Dabo Swinney may be onto something when it comes to developing wide receivers, you guys.)


Sooner rather than later: Greg Dortch in 2018

The 2018 season will be the start of a new era for Wake Forest football — sort of. After a four-year career, capped with an All-ACC senior season, quarterback John Wolford is gone from the program.

Taking over at quarterback will likely be senior Kendall Hinton. Wolford’s long-time partner, Hinton, could have the job full-time now after three seasons. Although new offensive coordinator Wayne Ruggiero is keeping things open at the moment.

In the lone game Wolford missed in 2017 — a loss at Clemson — Hinton played pretty well. Greg Dortch was targeted a game-high nine times, per Football Study Hall — making five grabs for 78 yards. Also, in Wake Forest’s season-opening 51-7 win over Presbyterian, Hinton and Dortch hooked up for a 42-yard touchdown, too.

Dave Clawson and the Demon Deacons started up spring practice last week without Tabari Hines, who will transfer from the program.


Read More

Wake Forest struggles to defend around Doral Moore, one of the ACC’s top rim protectors