While the Wake Forest football program has been on pause lately as a result of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing, some Deacs on professional teams were in the spotlight this past Sunday.
It’s only fitting to start with undrafted rookie wide receiver Kendall Hinton, who was put in the limelight this week for a reason that he himself couldn’t have ever imagined. The Denver Broncos, due to their own coronavirus complications, were without all four of their rostered quarterbacks coming into their game Sunday.
In accordance with the NFL’s updated rulebook, the Broncos were not able to pick up a quarterback off waivers, nor start former play-caller and quality control assistant coach Rob Calabrese (who played QB in college). The team requested that the game be postponed to a later date, but this was also denied by the league. This meant someone had to step up for the team, and that someone became Hinton.
The former Wake Forest star WR who, just 24 hours before the game was on the practice squad, was asked to give his best effort at the quarterback position against one of the top-ranked defenses in the National Football League, without any practice reps. Hinton worked a sales job earlier this month, and his LinkedIn has him currently listed as a fundraising coach at Vertical Raise. You simply can’t make this stuff up.
Hinton is a prime example of a Wake Forest athlete: never shy to step up in the face of adversity and rise to the occasion. Take 2019, for example. In his last season as a Demon Deacon, Hinton overcame a three game-suspension, several injuries (including one that sidelined him for the entirety of his sophomore campaign), a position change and an encounter with the NCAA transfer portal.
On Sunday, Hinton only completed one of nine attempts, and threw two interceptions. Nonetheless, Hinton remained poised and completed the game. For his efforts, he received high praise from his coach and teammates, as well as from other players around the league.
After the game, he remained positive and thankful.
“It’s not how it planned out in my dreams, just getting this opportunity, this experience, has been amazing,” Hinton said.
An NFL start he will remember and cherish for the rest of life, Hinton proudly represented the Deacons on the national stage.
Aside from Hinton, several other Deacons took the field this past Sunday and made impacts of their own. Cornerback and fellow undrafted Broncos rookie Essang Bassey had his first interception as a pro midway through the third quarter. The ball, thrown by Taysom Hill, was tipped by A.J.Bouye and the rest is history.
“He made a great play on the ball, and I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time,” Bassey said.
Jessie Bates III, a former defender at Wake Forest who now plays free safety for the Bengals finished this week’s game tied for the team lead in tackles with seven. Bates’s total for the year is now up to 75, and he has logged three interceptions as well.
Justin Herron earned his second start at offensive guard for the Patriots and played well, protecting Cam Newton en route to the Patriots win. Former Wake Forest Cornerback Kevin Johnson had three tackles for the Browns in their 27-25 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The late great Joe Looney was able to play on Thanksgiving for the Cowboys as well, and Phil Haynes played guard for the Seahawks on Monday night.
There are now a total of fourteen players in the National Football League with roots at Wake Forest. And, with players such as Carlos ‘Boogie’ Basham, Ja’Cquez Williams, Sage Surratt, Terrance Davis and Sam Hartman boosting their draft potential with outstanding play this season, the Demon Deacons will likely continue to send players to the pros.