A year in which the class’ QB1 will remain unknown until the first signal-caller comes off the board on draft night, one of the more intriguing prospects in the quarterback class has thrown his name into the hat of talents to watch as we approach Championship Saturday.
A redshirt sophomore, Sam Hartman represents everything currently ‘in’ at the NFL level. A dual-threat prospect who became the first quarterback to throw for 30 or more touchdown passes and rush for 10 more since Louisville’s Lamar Jackson did so in 2016, Hartman, with four ACC seasons already under his belt, presents an uber-experienced talent whose path to the draft will come at his pace, his tempo. With two extra seasons of eligibility, Hartman has leverage unlike any gun-slinger in the entire class.
A mature prospect whose ability to dissect defenses in the pocket and outside the hashes has Wake Forest preparing for its first ACC title game since 2006, Hartman has aligned hip-to-hip with some of the class' most heralded signal-callers this fall. The driving force for the Demon Deacons’ 8-0 start, and a current mark of 10-2 that has Hartman’s group on the brink of a high-prestige bowl bid, Hartman presents a skill set not common to the public eye in comparison to the Kenny Picketts, Malik Willis’, and Matt Corrals of the class.
Dubbed the “Clawfense,” by head coach Dave Clawson, the Demon Deacons attack you in a variety of different ways. Headlined by an up-tempo, pro-style offense, Wake’s ability, led by Hartman, to run both in heavy sets and in empty in designed quarterback keepers has kept defenses honest throughout the entire fall—and rightly so. Tops in the ACC in scoring offense (42.9 PPG), they are ranked third in total offense (483.6 yards per game), where their aerial attack is complemented by a run game that by no means will pound the rock for 200-plus yards each week like North Carolina (219.8) and Louisville (211.3). However, the Demon Deacons (168.1) sit tied with the Tar Heels for the most rushing touchdowns in the entire conference (29), an attribute to their ability to consistently find pay-dirt in the most high-leverage situations they’ve faced so far this fall.
Whether it’s Hartman on a QB Power for a 20-yard scamper or a simple dive play at the 3-yard line on 4th-and-goal, keeping the Demon Deacons off the scoreboard this fall with Hartman at the helm has become a near-impossible task. And, accordingly, when teams attempt to bring an extra defender down in the box to limit chunk plays on the ground, Hartman, with wideouts A.T. Perry and Jaquarii Roberson on the outside, have progressed into an aerial talent trio as impressive as any in CFB.
Both 1,000-yard receivers this fall, the two six-foot-plus pass-catchers have reaped the rewards of Hartman’s progression as a thrower of the football. While his double-digit rushing touchdown mark is slightly boosted due to his ability to escape and create under fire in a crowded backfield, his pocket presence and comfortability in reading a defense pre-snap have been excellent all campaign long. While it helps to have playmakers like Perry and Roberson on either side, microscoping Hartman and his projection for a team in need of quarterback competition (Philadelphia, Denver, New Orleans, Washington) has introduced a prospect who’ll have a bold red dot beside his name as he squares off against Pickett this weekend.