Originally posted on Fox Sports Carolinas  |  Last updated 5/25/12
Michael Campanaro may be the best football player in the ACC nobody talks about. Its possible his own fan base doesnt entirely appreciate his overall value to Wake Forest. Hes that good and hes that underrated. Faster and shiftier than he appears, stronger than he looks, and pretty darn cagey, Campanaro can make things happen in a multitude of ways. Last season, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound wide receiver scored touchdowns after pass receptions, on a punt return, and he threw two scoring tosses. He complemented Chris Givens quite well, allowing Givens to finish second in the ACC in receiving on his way to a high NFL draft spot in April. This season, Camaparo assumes the go-to role, and third-year starting quarterback Tanner Price is supremely confident in the sure-handed Maryland native. Hes one of those receivers that if you throw the ball in his general direction, he can come down and catch it, Price said. Its great having a guy like that on the team. Wake (6-7 overall and 5-3 in the ACC last season) returns just three starters on a unit that was ninth in the ACC in total offense last fall (368 yards per game), but fifth in passing offense (253). The Demon Deacons dont have anyone close to Givens level to replace him, or Campanaros level to replace him. Hence, theres pressure on Campanaro to have a huge season. Deacons coach Jim Grobe believes his team has enough talent to compensate for the loss, but the players have to prove it. I think Terence Davis is going to be a senior, and he has knee surgery a couple of years ago, and this is the first time hes just really looked comfortable for us, Grobe said. I think hes a kid that can help us. (Redshirt sophomore) Matt James and (redshirt sophomore) Brandon Terry, too, 6-5 receivers that can run and catch the football, very athletic. Sherman Ragland, the freshman that we redshirted last year, has some special ability. I think weve got talent there. The problems is that other than Campanaro, none of the other receivers were consistent this past spring. Each of them made a few big plays, Grobe said, but they struggled consistently making the routine ones. Campanaro, on the other hand, was better than ever until late in the workouts when he chipped a bone in his pinky finger. He showed the coaches he could handle the lead role and that he can take on even more of a role in the form of trickery this fall. That should help given that Wake was last in the ACC in 3rd-down conversions a season ago. As a freshman, Campanaro played in all 12 games starting one. He erupted last season, finishing fourth in the ACC with 73 receptions for 833 yards and two scores. Campanaro also returned a punt for a touchdown, threw two scoring passes, ran the ball from scrimmage a couple of times and even averaged 21.3 yards on seven kickoff returns. Campanaro was a highly touted running back in high school, and as a junior intercepted four passes in helping lead his team to a state championship. Thats where some of his skills in tracking down balls and running and cutting after catches were developed. Its also where he adopted the mindset of supreme confidence, even before he ever stepped foot on Wakes campus. I kind of do it all, he told Scout.com as a high school senior. I can run north and south really well, but am also good in the slot position and can create mismatches for the defense. I make plays and can turn the game around with one play. Halfway through his college career, Campanaro is backing up his talk. And the next act should be even more impressive.
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