Wake Forest standout receiver Michael Campanaro will play on Thursday night against Clemson, coach Jim Grobe said on Wednesday’s ACC teleconference.
“I would say he’ll definitely play tomorrow night,” Grobe said.
Campanaro broke his hand on Sept. 29 against Duke and hasn’t played since, but he is the Deacs’ top offensive playmaker. At the time of his injury, Campanaro was leading the ACC with 38 receptions and was also second in the country in receptions. He was quarterback Tanner Price’s top option, as Campanaro had been targeted by Price 50 times while Sherman Ragland was second with 23 targets. Campanaro had caught a pass in 17 straight games, and his return will be critical to the Deacs’ chances of pulling an upset.
Grobe said Campanaro has been limited at practice this week, and could be a little rusty.
“I really was just laughing about it a couple of days ago,” Grobe said. “We started him out catching tennis balls. We didn’t know if he could catch a football because his hand is still pretty tender. Last night he looked so much better. We put him in practice. We were still careful with him. We tried not to do too much with him. He didn’t seem to have any problems.”
Assuming Campanaro has two more full seasons left in Winston-Salem, his statistics through his first two years put him in good company with some of the program’s top receivers. He is coming off a sophomore year in which he caught 73 passes for 833 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 83 catches are the third-most ever by a Deacon through his first two years. His injury was a huge blow to Wake’s offense, as the Demon Deacons have lost two of their last three games, including the loss to Duke when Campanaro was injured. Last year against Clemson, Campanaro led the Deacs’ receivers with nine catches for 72 yards. He also returned a punt 50 yards.
The staff has added padding to Campanaro’s glove this week to help him with the soreness.
“I think they got the padding right, and he caught the ball well last night,” Grobe said. “I think he’s going to play. How much he plays and how well he plays has yet to be determined, but I think if we get him out there and he knocks the rust off pretty quick and starts playing good, we’d be more apt to give him more work.”
“It’s a fine line,” Grobe said. “We want to protect him, that’s our No. 1 concern, but also he has to be effective. It seemed like last night he was having not too many issues catching the football. We just haven’t given him a lot of reps. That’s the issue I’ve got. Physically he’s going to be OK, he just hasn’t done a lot over the past three weeks.”