The players I got to know best during my days as Wake beat reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal were the ones who made an impact early in their careers, and thus were the guys I needed to talk with after games and practices and during our weekly Tuesday gathering to eat chicken and talk football.
Few players in my time made a more immediate impact than Cam Serigne, whom, I’m pleased to say, I got to know quite well during what is sure to be a Hall-of-Fame four-year career.
Wake completed only 12 passes in Dave Clawson’s first game as head coach, a decidedly inauspicious 17-10 loss at Louisiana-Monroe. It was also the debut of Serigne, whose three catches tied Matt James and EJ Scott for team best.
By season’s end he had emerged as one of the few bright spots of a long and dismal 3-9 campaign. His 54 catches not only led the Deacons, but also set a school record for tight ends, as well as any redshirt freshman.
Cam, luckily, was easy to get to know, a real stand-up guy who I’ll remember best for his bright eyes and ever-present smile. Along the way I also had the pleasure of meeting his father David on the Deacons’ road trip to beat Indiana in the fourth game of the 2017 season, and I could tell where Cam’s good nature came from.
College football is a grueling sport, and Serigne, like most players, had his share of ups and downs. After catching 46 passes as a sophomore, a nagging hamstring that just wouldn’t heal bothered him throughout his junior season. That, and an ever increasing emphasis on the running game resulted in him catching only 30 as a junior.
But Serigne, who had by then transformed his body from a 220-pound redshirt freshman to a 250-pound redshirt junior, was always best when needed most. And one of my favorite plays of the season was when he caught the 41-yard touchdown from John Wolford to start the scoring in the Deacons’ 34-26 Military Bowl victory over Temple.
His senior season, in many ways, was his best. The Deacons stacked another story on Clawson’s remarkable rebuild by finishing 8-5. And although he ranked fourth on the team with 44 catches, nine of them came in the Belk Bowl in a 55-52 shootout victory over Texas A&M. He also tied Greg Dortch for most touchdown catches for the season, with nine, and his 37-yard reception from Wolford in the second quarter not only staked Wake to a 38-21 lead, but also set an ACC record with 21 career touchdown catches by a tight end.
What a memorable way to end an unforgettable career.
So by reading this you have to know how happy I was to see the news that Serigne has signed a free agent contract with the Carolina Panthers, and how hard I’ll be pulling for him to make the team. It won’t be easy, given that the Panthers have five other tight ends – Greg Olsen, Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz, Evan Baylis and Jason Vander Laan – also competing for a start on the opening day roster.
But Cam showed us all who he was during his time at Wake, a determined, dedicated, talented young man willing to do whatever it takes to make his team better without one word of complaint or regret.
Last seen on the field, he was at Bank of America Stadium catching nine passes in a victory.
What a great story it will be if he’s back in that field when the Panthers’ open their 2018 season at home on Sept. 9 against the Dallas Cowboys.