With or without QB1, the show must go on

Photo Sam Hartman’s absence raises questions for the football season


Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

Sam Hartman was the face of a successful 2021 Wake Forest offense.

Sean Kennedy, Contributing Writer


A single word can describe the feelings of thousands of Wake Forest football fans upon learning that team captain and starting quarterback Sam Hartman would be out indefinitely with a non-football related condition discovered following a workout on Aug. 9. 

Hartman, the redshirt junior from Charlotte, North Carolina, is no stranger to these types of setbacks. 

In his high school sophomore year, Hartman tragically lost his older brother, Demitri, two days before he would play the state championship with his high school team, Davidson Day. Not only did Hartman throw for multiple touchdowns, but he won the game as well. 

After Davidson Day’s football program closed its doors before Hartman’s senior year, he went to South Carolina’s Oceanside Collegiate Academy with unfamiliar faces as teammates. He ended up leading Oceanside to a 7-3 record that season with over 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns, a drastic improvement from the team’s 0-8 record the previous season. 

We can win a lot of games with those two guys [Griffis and Kern] and we can beat good teams with those guys.”

Unfortunately, an outlook on Hartman’s timetable for a return is unclear. Head Coach Dave Clawson has indicated that there is no set date; however, Clawson is confident that the starting quarterback will return this season. 

“It’s too early to tell exactly what that timeline is,” Clawson said. “Anything you say is just speculation right now, but we expect him to be back and as it goes along, we’ll get a better idea. Like any injury, illness, whatever, there’s always a timeframe you think, but it can get shortened, it can get lengthened.” 

Although Hartman’s leadership and competitiveness could be seen as unrivaled to some, Clawson was eager to point out the depth and experience of his offense. 

“You got two, three six-year guards [Sean Maginn, Loic Ngassam Nya]. You got a fifth-year center [Michael Jurgens]. You got a fifth-year tight end [Blake Whiteheart]. You got a fifth-year receiver [A.T. Perry]. We have leadership across the board on offense,” Clawson said. “ [Hartman]’s done such a great job in creating the tone and setting a standard that those guys aren’t going to let that standard fall off.” 

Focus at the starting quarterback position shifts to redshirt freshman Mitch Griffis and redshirt sophomore Michael Kern, both of whom limited saw game action last season. Griffis, who Clawson has stated as being the provisional “QB1” in fall camp, is on track for the start in the Deacons’ first game on September 1st against FCS program VMI. 

“He runs the offense well,” Clawson said about Griffis. “He’s got savvy. He’s a bit like Sam [Hartman] in terms of how important football is.” He also addressed Kern, stating “Michael too. Michael can go out there and lead us down the field.” 

Relying on Griffis and Kern will be a top receiving corps in the conference, led by 2021 All-ACC first teamer A.T. Perry. Perry, who set the Wake Forest record for receiving touchdowns in a single season last year with 15, was one of two Demon Deacons to make ESPN’s Top 100 Players for 2022, along with Hartman. Also contributing to the receiving room will be redshirt sophomores Taylor Morin and Donavon Greene, the latter of whom is returning from an ACL tear suffered before the 2021 season. Ke’Shawn Williams and Jamal Banks are expected to show out as well, rounding out one of the strongest receiving squads in the country in terms of both talent and depth. The Deacons, who rank No. 22 in the country in the preseason AP poll, had their expectations dampened by national media after the news concerning Hartman’s medical condition. 

“I don’t expect our football team to be any less successful because of this and not one guy on that field feels that way,” Clawson said. “I mean that. We can win a lot of games with those two guys [Griffis and Kern] and we can beat good teams with those guys.” 

Despite the lack of starting experience, Demon Deacon fans shouldn’t overreact to the news. Not only will Hartman be back this season, but as evidenced by his past, he’ll persevere just like always. In the interim, fans should know that Griffis and Kern can both be trusted to handle Offensive Coordinator Warren Ruggiero’s offense, and they should be just as supportive (and confident) as Clawson is in his men.