The Wake Forest coaches are big fans of receiver Michael Campanaro. The Deacs love their top receiver. They know what he can do.
Which is why they didn’t really miss him all too much this spring as Campanaro sat out to recover from ankle surgery.
It was the perfect opportunity for the program to find a complement to “Camp.”
With Campanaro sidelined, receiver Orville Reynolds emerged as a dependable second option for veteran quarterback Tanner Price -- so much so that Reynolds was voted by his teammates as the most improved offensive player this spring. In fact, Reynolds was impressive enough that he actually put the coaches in a bit of a predicament -- now they feel obligated to find a place for him on the field this fall.
“He took advantage of his opportunity,” offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke said. “He made a lot of big plays for us. We’re trying to do more things in the run game with the receivers, kind of like we used to do with Kenny Moore back in the day. He’s really good at that, that’s really his forte, and he’s getting better at doing those slot receiver routes that we do, those balls that Camp catches over the middle and stuff, he’s getting better at those things.
“The biggest problem we have right now is, when Camp comes back, what do we do with Orville?” Lobotzke said. “We’re trying to figure out if we’re in a three receivers set, is Orville good enough to play one of the other positions and not just slot? Can he slide in outside, or put him in the boundary, or whatever? Because right now, he and Camp are overlapping. We want to have two of those guys, but we hate to have two of our faster, better players stacked up behind each other on the depth chart. We’re trying to figure out where Orville fits right now, but he’s got a bright future. After Camp graduates, I think the show will be his at slot.”
Reynolds, a converted running back, is so thrilled to be a part of the offense he’ll play just about anywhere they ask him to lineup.
“I’m just ready to do whatever the coaches want me to do, wherever I have to be on the field,” Reynolds said. “I know that a lot of eyes are going to be on Camp, so maybe I’ll free up somewhere else, but wherever the coaches want me to play, then that’s where I’ll play. I’m just excited that I can be used in the offense.”
Midway through last season, the staff decided to move Reynolds from running back to slot receiver. Lobotzke kindly described Reynolds as a “fish out of water,” getting limited playing time behind superstar Campanaro.
That clearly changed this spring.
“I was a lot more comfortable,” Reynolds said. “It was a lot of work to get the feel for everything. I just thank God I got a shot to show everybody what I have.”
As a former running back, one of Reynolds’ strengths is catching the ball in open space and gaining the yards after the catch. Reynolds said he and Campanaro are good friends, and that Campanaro has given him advice on the position. Despite missing two full games and most of a third last fall, Campanaro still set an ACC single-season record for per-game pass reception average (7.9), making 79 catches for 763 yards and six touchdowns. He had over 12 catches in a game on three different occasions, including an ACC record-tying 16 grabs in the Deacs’ win over Boston College.
This fall, he might be even more productive if Reynolds continues to be another option the defenses must be concerned about.
“He's kind of embraced the slot position,” head coach Jim Grobe said. “Going through spring, as much as we love Camp and we know he can play, I thought it was a perfect scenario for Orville to show whether he could play or not. He had a great spring -- did some good things running the football, catching it. Just a completely different kid from what we've had the past couple of years. So I do think we have a guy that can back-up Campanaro. But what he's done for us is he's probably made us look at having two slots on the field sometimes.”