LB Jon Abbate

2005 Statistics

Coach: Jim Grobe
26-32, 5 years
2005 Record: 4-7
at Nebraska LOST 3-31
at Florida State LOST 24-41
at Boston College LOST 30-35
at Duke WON 44-6
at Georgia Tech LOST 17-30

2005 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2006 Outlook

If you ask Jim Grobe what he really thinks, he is as optimistic about this campaign as any. With 19 starters back, most would tend to agree. After three consecutive losing seasons, this could be the year the Deacs get back on the bowl scene. On paper, this team looks good enough to actually push some of the ACC Coastal Division big boys, even though most preseason prognostications still have this team finishing at the bottom of the pack. This says much about the parity and balance of the ACC as a whole since the recent expansion. All the parts are not in place just yet to put Wake Forest on the Top 25 map, but this is their best team since 2002. If QB Benjamin Mauk gets significantly better while displaying the talents that made him the best passer in Ohio high school history, and he can force opponents to respect the pass, their (misdirection) running game is sure to continue to be one of the league's best (tops for the ACC in 2005) and the offense will churn out yards galore. But if the receivers continue to struggle in coming to his aid, a one-dimensional running approach isn't good enough to put the Deacs into post-season play - opposing defenses will just stack the box once again. No big-threat RB capable of breaking one to the house exists this time around. More importantly, it's hard to play catch up football when opponents are airing it out and piling up points over a secondary that represents one of the nation's worst. Still, this team could easily beat somebody no one expects it to…the talent and system are good enough.

Projected 2006 record: 6-6
QB - 3 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 4
WR - 2.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 4 ..

Passing: Benjamin Mauk, 158-85-6, 845 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Micah Andrews, 110 att., 621 yds., 1 TD

Receiving: Nate Morton, 39 rec., 482 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Sam Swank, 19-24 FG, 29-29 PAT, 86 pts.

Punting: Sam Swank, 1 punt, 30.0 avg.

Kicking: Sam Swank, 19-24 FG, 29-29 PAT, 86 pts.

Tackles: Jon Abbate, 77 tot., 41 solo

Sacks: Matt Robinson, 4.5 sacks

Interceptions: Josh Gattis, 5 for 126 yds., 2 TD

Kickoff Returns: Kevin Marion, 18 ret., 18.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Willie Idlette, 24 ret., 4.0 avg., 0 TD


RB Micah Andrews
OFFENSE: Cory Randolph-QB, Chris Barclay-TB, Chris Davis-WR, Greg Adkins-OT, Wesley Bryant-OT
DEFENSE: Goryal Scales-DT, Jason Pratt-LB, Ryan Plackemeier-P

At QB, coaches have no qualms about naming Benjamin Mauk the starter and offensive leader, despite issues in previous starts. After setting national passing records at Kenton High School (Ohio) and becoming the state's Mr. Football, recruiting gurus wondered just how well the young man would fare in Wake’s running-based offensive system. Mauk started the first four games of ‘05 but then lost the job to now-departed Cory Randolph. Look for the Deacons to possibly utilize more shotgun formations with the passing dimension now in (their) favor.

This offense under head coach Jim Grobe is a unique zone blocking/misdirecting ground-oriented approach. As an example, the departed (four-year starter) Chris Barclay became only the third RB in ACC history to rush for more than 4,000 career yards. The job is now Micah Andrews’, who actually averaged more yards-per-carry (5.6 yards) than did Barclay last fall (a feat that ranked him second in the conference). His issue is holding onto the ball, a bad formula for anyone considered a dependable back. Andrews is not as quick and shifty as was Barclay, but possesses more power for pounding the middle, though he isn't a threat to go the distance for a long TD.

The receivers have underachieved, to put it mildly. Spring raised even more concerns as projected starters Nate Morton (broken hand) and Willie Idlette (track) did not participate. Kenny Moore had the best spring of any WR but has not proven durable in his previous stints. This unit raises the most questions for fall. Both TEs are still available from a year ago in Selmon and Tereshinski. Neither caught at TD pass and don't offer much in attempts to find a pass catcher.

The front wall is a huge positive full of experienced veterans. The backups are thin, however, so healthy bodies here have to be a concern. Coaches had just six players to regularly rely on last year. Steve Vallos is the anchor entering his fourth season as a starter (34 consecutive games).


OT Steve Vallos


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Benjamin Mauk-Jr (6-1, 200) Brett Hodges-Fr (6-1, 180)
Riley Skinner-Fr (6-1, 195)
FB Damon McWhite-Jr (6-1, 255) Richard Belton-So (6-1, 250)
TB Micah Andrews-Jr (5-10, 215) De'Angelo Bryant-Jr (6-0, 245)
WR Willie Idlette-Sr (5-10, 175) Demir Boldin-So (5-11, 220)
WR Nate Morton-Sr (6-3, 215) Kenneth Moore-Jr (6-0, 195)
Kevin Marion-Jr (5-10, 160)
TE Zac Selmon-Jr (6-5, 250) John Tereshinski-Jr (6-3, 240)
OT Arby Jones-Sr (6-2, 285) Joe Birdsong-Fr (6-4, 290)
OG Matthew Brim-Jr (6-4, 295) Gage Crews-Fr (6-4, 310)
C Steve Justice-Jr (6-4, 280) Trey Bailey-Fr (6-2, 290)
OG Chris DeGeare-So (6-4, 360) Barrett McMillan-Fr (6-3, 305)
OT Steve Vallos-Sr (6-3, 290) Jeff Griffin-Fr (6-3, 295)
K Sam Swank-So (6-2, 206) Jon Temple-Jr (5-10, 176)



For the first time in Jim Grobe's five years, depth abounds at every spot up front, an area in which Wake Forest was extremely short the past couple of seasons. This may be the best bunch at his disposal since arriving in Winston-Salem in terms of the aforementioned depth.

With two veterans at LB (Abbate and Easley), the defense looks to be much improved. Jon Abbate is the defense’s top gun and is poised to make a claim as one of the best LBs in the conference after leading the team in tackles the last two years. This group may be the strongest unit on either side of the ball.

The Deacons are as experienced at safety as they are inexperienced at cornerback. The outside situation has to improve drastically for the defense to gain any respect after finishing with the worst pass defense in the ACC (giving up 252.7 yards per game and 22 TDs). The two seniors at safety, Patrick Ghee and Josh Gattis, are experienced enough to help stop the bleeding. Young CB Alphonso Smith (Freshman All-American by The Sporting News) will need to continue to make his presence felt as coaches attempt to locate someone else capable of starting on the other side. One of the young guys will have to step up in a big way.


DB Josh Gattis


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Matt Robinson-Jr (6-2, 240) Anthony Davis-So (6-5, 240)
NG Jamil Smith-Sr (6-2, 294) Boo Robinson-Fr (6-2, 325)
DT Jyles Tucker-Sr (6-3, 268) Zach Stukes-Sr (6-2, 260)
DE Bryan Andrews-Sr (6-5, 263) Jeremy Thompson-Jr (6-5, 250)
SLB Aaron Curry-So (6-3, 240) Michael Simmons-Jr (6-1, 220)
MLB Jon Abbate-Jr (5-11, 245) Eric Berry-So (6-1, 260)
WLB Pierre Easley-Sr (6-0, 250) Stanley Arnoux-So (6-0, 245)
CB Riley Swanson-Sr (5-11, 188) Kerry Major-So (5-11, 175)
CB Alphonso Smith-So (5-9, 188) Kevin Patterson-So (5-10, 182)
SS Patrick Ghee-Sr (6-1, 211) Aaron Mason-Jr (5-9, 200)
FS Josh Gattis-Sr (6-1, 212) Chip Vaughn-So (6-2, 215)
P Sam Swank-So (6-2, 206) Kevin Harris-Fr (6-1, 230)




Sam Swank emerged as one the ACC's most consistent kickers in just his redshirt freshman year. Going 19-of-24 was third best in the ACC in terms of percentage (74) and made him a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award (best kicker). He was the only freshman on the list. Since NCAA record-holder and four year starting punter Ryan Plackemeier is now in the NFL, these duties may also fall on Swank. Coaches would like to see incoming freshman Daniel Caldwell, who was considered one of the top 10 punting prospects in the nation as a high school senior, assume to role, but don't count on such a feat. Swank is likely to see double duty.