Wake Forest cornerbacks worth watching

This summer you'll hear plenty about NC State cornerback David Amerson and safety Earl Wolff, about Florida State's secondary, about Kyle Fuller at Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech's veteran defensive backs.

Odds are you won't hear much, though, about a cornerback named Kevin Johnson.

That should change this fall.

Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, was one of three true freshmen to play for coach Jim Grobe in 2010. For those of you who unfamiliar with Grobe's philosophy on redshirting, playing as a true freshman at Wake Forest is a rarity. Johnson was good enough to start in five games in 2010, but he was declared academically ineligible last fall. Now he's back, and he's one of several hidden gems on the Deacs' roster that could make their secondary sneaky-good this year.

Merrill "Bud" Noel, the ACC's 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year, will be the face of the group, but don't be surprised to see Johnson push past three-year starter Kenny Okoro on the depth chart. Johnson is that good. With Noel, Johnson and Okoro as the starting nickel back, few if any teams in the ACC have three corners as capable as Wake Forest.

The dependability of the safeties remains a question heading into summer camp, but the talent at cornerback could help ease that transition. So might the hiring of secondary coach Tim Duffie, who made significant strides with the group this spring.

This is how Wake Forest rolls -- it lures some unheralded talent, develops it, and suddenly you're watching a guy like Noel. Keep an eye on Johnson. He could be next.