Every time I watch Jamie Newman lead Wake to another football victory, I think of Tyler Brosius.
More to the point, I think of a conversation I had with Jim Grobe about Tyler Brosius.
Brosius, as recruiting aficionados will recall, was a quarterback from Tuscola High School in Waynesville who played briefly at N.C. State about 10 years ago – before he embarked on a pro baseball career as a pitcher in the Braves’ farm system.
Brosius had committed to N.C. State by the time I made a trip back home to Franklin. My brother Joe had already decided we had to travel to Waynesville, about 35 miles away, to see Franklin High play Tuscola High in the first round of the state playoffs.
So I told Grobe, then head coach at Wake, that I was going to watch the Wolfpack’s prize recruit play and that I would return with a scouting report. Jim laughed, and said that would be great.
Well Brosius was good, good enough to lead the Mountaineers to victory over our Panthers. But I saw something else about him that I couldn’t resist teasing Grobe about.
“Well I saw Brosius play,’’ I informed Grobe at our weekly gathering to eat chicken and talk football.’’
“Oh that’s right,’’ Grobe replied. “What did you think?
“Well Jim, I just couldn’t see him playing quarterback for Wake,’’ I said.
“You couldn’t?,’’ Grobe wondered. “Why not.’’
“Well because he’s 6-3 and 230 pounds,’’ I cracked. “I’ve never seen a 6-3, 230-pound quarterback play for Wake Forest.’’
Grobe, as always, got the joke. And as usual, he loved it.
Fast forward through Riley Skinner, Tanner Price, John Wolford and, yes, Sam Hartman, and today Wake finally has, in the 6-4, 230-pound Newman, a prototypical modern college quarterback. And as good as Skinner, Price, Wolford and Hartman were/are, it’s Newman’s size and physicality that has made a huge difference in the Deacons’ run of eight victories in the nine games Newman has started.
Against Boston College, in the Deacons’ last game, I saw Newman’s size and physicality as the difference. On a day his passing wasn’t as sharp as usual, and the receivers weren’t as sure-handed as usual, I don’t think Wake would have pulled it out without Neman bullying his way to 102 yards on 23 carries.
I can be excused for not seeing Newman’s full potential during my final days as a sportswriter. I know that to be true because neither did Dave Clawson. Otherwise Newman, and not Hartman, would have been starting the first nine games of 2018.
Now that’s not to say Hartman was a slouch in those nine games. I thought he was impressive, especially for a first-year freshman.
But my goodness, in looking at the stats Newman has racked up in five games this season (117 completions on 168 attempts for 1521 yards, 14 touchdowns against three interceptions, to go with 262 yards on 78 carries) and it becomes immediately apparent that Wake has never seen a quarterback like him before.
The true believers, the ones who see Wake beating Clemson to take the ACC title and Newman walking off with a Heisman Trophy, will tell you it’s a new day at Wake and that the Deacon football program today should not be compared to anything that came before.
Their strongest point in that argument is a 6-4, 230-pound quarterback named Jamie Newman.
Regulars to Mytakeonwhatever.com will notice that I haven’t been writing much about Wake sports recently. And there’s a reason for that, other than laziness.
Two years have passed since I covered Wake sports. I don’t have the kind of inside information I had as beat guy for the Winston-Salem Journal. I still talk with folks in the know from time to time, but I’m as far removed as most of those reading this. So I certainly don’t want to pass myself off as an expert.
That’s not to say I won’t from time to time observe for consumption the obvious, such as Dave Clawson is one hell of a football coach, and that Danny Manning has categorically failed in his five years of trying to prove he’s an ACC basketball coach.
So it’s not like I’ll be shy in spouting what I do know, such as maybe a historical context, from time to time. But for the day-to-day info, you’ve probably figured out by now you should rely instead on guys like Les and Conor, the guys who are there day-to-day.