Wake Forest punter/placekicker Sam Swank strained his right quadriceps in practice Monday and is officially listed as questionable for Thursday night's game against Clemson, a school spokesman confirmed.
Swank, one of the nation's top kickers, will continue to receive ice treatment ahead of the game. His backup is Shane Popham, a redshirt freshman who has yet to kick or punt in college.
Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said Wednesday the team is preparing for Clemson with Popham, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship in January, but that he hasn't counted Swank out entirely just yet.
"It's a big concern, obviously," Grobe said. "We were pretty comfortable with Sam when he got out on the field because he's done it so much. That's the problem. I think Shane Popham, our backup who is going to inherit Sam's job next year, is perfectly capable, he's just not done it before. It's that old potential thing -- the kid's got great potential, but he hasn't had the chance to go out and do it before.
"I'm sure [Popham] will be a little bit nervous. ... He's got a really good leg, he's got good distance on field goals and punts, he might actually have a stronger leg than Sam punting the football, but he's just not been there before, so it's a concern. I think the ability is there, it's just a matter of keeping him calm."
Swank, who did not dress for Tuesday's practice, leads the nation in field goals (10) and is also tied for 13th nationally in scoring average (10 points per game). He could break NCAA records for percentage of PATs and field goals made if he stays healthy this season. Swank has made 70 of 89 field goal attempts (78.7 percent) and is perfect on 116 PAT attempts.
Swank has kicked at least one field goal in 14 straight games and his career total of 70 field goals ties him for second in ACC history -- the most of any active FBS player. He also is Wake Forest's career scoring leader with 326 points.
Swank has been a difference-maker for Wake Forest throughout his career, and this season is no exception. His 41-yard field goal with three seconds remaining gave the Demon Deacons a 30-28 win over Ole Miss on Sept. 6. Wake (3-1, 1-0 ACC) leads the Atlantic Division and a win over Clemson, the preseason favorite, would put further distance between the Deacons and an otherwise jumbled league standings.
Heather Dinich is a college football writer who covers the ACC for ESPN.com.