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Wake Forest's John Wolford first freshman QB to start the season since 1974

John Wolford
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Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford.

Dave Clawson announced Monday that true freshman John Wolford, who has been on campus for two months, would be the Demon Deacon’s starting quarterback when the team opened the season against Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 28.

“We will try and redshirt players but if a freshman gives us the best chance to win, we’re going to play him,” Clawson said in a statement released by the school. “It’s not fair to the juniors and the seniors in the program to make a decision based on what’s best five years from now. He gives us the best chance to win so we will now prepare him as our starting quarterback.”

Wolford will become the first true freshman to start the season at Wake Forest since Mike McGlamry against N.C. State on Sept. 7, 1974.

Wolfrod beat out redshirt junior Kevin Sousa, redshirt sophomore Tyler Cameron and freshman Travis Smith. Clawson said he planned to redshirt Smith.

Starting Wolford is going to be a big change for Wake Forest, which got used to Tanner Price at the helm each of the past four seasons. Last year, Price completed just 54.5 percent of his passes for 2,233 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Initially, many though Cameron would step in after Price departed, but an iffy spring left the position in doubt. Sousa, who started his career as a quarterback, moved to running back and has come back to the quarterbacking pool, outplayed Cameron during the spring game, which caused Clawson some pause on naming a starter until seeing his two incoming freshmen.

That plan appears to have worked out well as Clawson said Wolford had been the most consistent quarterback throughout the first week of fall camp and was especially impressive during Sunday’s scrimmage.

“I think he gives us our best opportunity to win football games,” Clawson said.

Clawson knows a little bit about finding young quarterbacking talent. Last season, Bowling Green sophomore starter Matt Johnson came out of nowhere to throw for 3,467 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 65 percent of his passes and had a QB efficiency rating of 161.7, which ranked 11th in the nation. Johnson is the only Mid-American Conference quarterback to be named to this year’s Maxwell Award watchlist.

Still, Clawson knows there are going to be bumps with starting a true freshman at quarterback, but he is confident in his decision.

“You always prefer to have experience at that position and you always prefer to have somebody who has had snaps in game situations but we were going to be starting a brand new quarterback no matter who we played,” Clawson said. “We graduated a four-year starter (Tanner Price) and as I said throughout the spring, it was going to be an open competition. And when we felt things started to separate, we would make a decision. We really feel 10 practices into (camp), it is separable.”

For more Wake Forest news, visit DeaconsIllustrated.com.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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