Wake Forest planning to play without RB Harris

Aug. 04, 2013 @ 04:56 AM

Wake Forest wants to run the ball more this season. That could be tougher now that leading rusher Josh Harris' status is uncertain.

The school is asking the NCAA for a waiver to restore the redshirt senior's eligibility after declaring him ineligible. Harris isn't on campus and wasn't at the team's preseason media day Saturday.

"We're just planning on having the guys that are here, and if Josh can get cleared, it would be a bonus," Grobe said. "But right now, you've got to plan on him not being here, and if he could be, then it would be good.

"But if not, then we've just got to move on," he added.

Wake Forest hopes to learn the NCAA's decision within the next week or two. And after the first day of practice, Grobe said his top two tailbacks are sophomore DeAndre Martin and redshirt freshman Josh Wilhite.

Harris led the team in rushing yardage in two of his three seasons. Martin was second to him in 2012 with 484 yards and had a team-best six touchdowns.

"It's a good opportunity to show the world what I can do on the field," Martin said.

The questions about Harris' status complicate things for the Demon Deacons, who are trying to restore balance to an offense that had gradually become too pass-oriented for Grobe's liking.

Senior quarterback Tanner Price set a school record with 422 pass attempts in 2011 and added 410 throws last season. Nearly 52 percent of the Demon Deacons' offensive plays in 2012 were passes.

"We plan on throwing the football a bunch, but we're trying to balance it out with more runs," Grobe said.

That will mean plenty of work for Martin, a north-south runner whose power complemented Harris' shifty style.

Martin started one of the 11 games he played last season, led the team in rushing in its final three games and ran for 115 yards against Army.

"It got me the experience that I needed on the field," Martin said. "They say you get butterflies the first time on the field in front of all these people or whatever. But I think I got that out of the way now."

There are plenty of other places where the Demon Deacons could find their rushing yards if they have to play without their most proven tailback.

Redshirt freshman Dominique Gibson moved from safety during spring drills. Freshmen Dez Wortham caught Grobe's attention during Day 1 of camp.

Slot receivers Michael Campanaro and Orville Reynolds have played running back in the past and Grobe says they "could plug in in in a heartbeat," though he added that he would prefer to not do that.

And Price — a 1,000-yard rusher in high school — figures to tuck it and run, too.

The coaching staff had been loath to turn him loose ever since he suffered a concussion in a loss to Florida State during his freshman season in 2010.

"I'm ready to go, and it'll be fun to run the ball again," Price said.