Deacs move on without Chris Givens

One of the biggest questions surrounding Wake Forest as the Deacs head into spring practice today is who will replace the team’s leading receiver from 2011 in Chris Givens, a speedy, home run threat who decided to leave early for the NFL.

The more accurate question, though, might be which receiver will fill Michael Campanaro's role as the No. 2 receiver.

Make no mistake -- the Deacs don’t have anyone on the roster quite like Givens, but they do still have Campanaro, who might be a more complete player than Givens, albeit not as fast. Coach Jim Grobe said Campanaro is a better possession receiver than Givens, and that he’s more precise at what the staff asks the slot receivers to execute. Grobe and quarterback Tanner Price agreed that Campanaro has what it takes to be this year’s go-to receiver. The key is finding the next “Camp” to give Wake Forest two playmakers at receiver.

“I think Camp is going to be our go-to guy,” Grobe said. “Some of the other kids could develop into really fine receivers, but it’s going to be hard to replace Chris’ ability to take off sprinting and outrun people and go catch the football. I don’t see anybody capable of doing that right now, but I think one of the better receivers we’ve had since I’ve been here is Mike Campanaro. We kind of plugged him into Chris’ area -- not so much in what he’ll be doing, whether it be playing split end, or flanker or slot or whatever, but just from a go-to perspective I think Campanaro can do some great things for us.”

Price said he’s got no problem with the next man up. Campanaro caught 73 passes for 833 yards and two touchdowns last year.

“Camp, he’s been a great target my whole career here,” Price said. “He’s one of those receivers that if you throw the ball in his general direction, he can come down and catch it. It’s great having a guy like that on the team, but at the same time you’ve got to have two guys. Camp and Chris complemented each other nice last year. It would be good to have another receiver who steps up so you can have that dual threat and two really solid targets to throw to.”

The Deacs have more than a few options there. Matt James and Brandon Terry are both listed at 6-foot-5, and have impressed Grobe with their speed. Terry would have played more last year, but he broke his little finger and had trouble catching the ball. (Grobe, a former linebacker, didn’t have much sympathy, but conceded it ‘wasn’t chapped lips.’) Terry also competed with the Deacs’ track team this year. Terence Davis showed flashes of potential last year, and Lovell Jackson is one of the most talented players on the offense. Grobe said Jackson has great hands, is an effective kick returner and has impressive foot speed and quickness, but is out this spring while recovering from a shoulder injury.

While the receiver position lost its fastest player from 2011, it might have gained a more versatile group.

“We’re going to lose a great player in Chris Givens, but the kids who were kind of on the fringe who gained a lot of experience last year, we might actually have a better group of guys for Tanner to throw to,” Grobe said. “Not the one home run threat like Chris gave us, but overall that whole group of guys might actually be better for Tanner because he’ll have more of a variety of guys to get the football to.”