Spring Football: Former West star Dorty impressive for Wake
By Ronnie Gallagher
WINSTON-SALEM ó Aaron Curry is gone now. The Wake Forest linebacker is expected to be one of the top picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.
So the Demon Deacons are searching for other players to step up.
Will former Rowan County defensive player of the year Tristan Dorty of West Rowan be among those?
Looks like it.
“AC was the heartbeat of the team,” Dorty said of Curry on Saturday after leading all tacklers in the Demon Deacons’ spring football game at the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex on the Wake Forest campus. “But we feel we all added a piece to the puzzle. We feel like we had a lot of talent waiting in the wings people don’t know about.”
Coach Jim Grobe put the Deacons through a 90-minute scrimmage that saw the squad divided into two teams. The Black team beat the White 24-14.
Meanwhile, the fans got a glimpse of what Dorty, who will be a redshirt sophomore, is capable of.
Dorty has grown into a 6-foot-2, 250-pound monster and he showed his muscle as he recorded six stops.
Dorty also finished with two tackles for loss.
“I thought I played pretty well,” Dorty said. “The spring has really helped me. I feel more agile, I’m stronger and I’m quicker.”
And he’s scheduled to be on the field this fall from the opening whistle.
Dorty saw limited action last season but is slated to start this fall at left defensive end. His position coach is the same as last year: former Catawba All-American Keith Henry.
“It feels great,” Dorty said of his projected starting spot. “I’m real pumped up. But I’m not going to let it go to my head. I’m going to keep working hard.”
Offensively, opposing teams may think Riley Skinner has been running Wake’s offense for a decade or so, but being an elder statesman didn’t hit the rising fifth-year senior until recently.
“I’ve always considered myself a young guy, even last year,” Skinner said Saturday after completing 15 of 23 passes for 272 yards.
“Now being the oldest guy out here is pretty strange. But I like it, it gives you a sense of leadership.”
“The great thing about Riley Skinner is he acts like he’s never started a game,” coach Jim Grobe said. “That’s how hard he works. In the weight room, at practice, in meetings, film study, this is a guy that you would never know has achieved the success he’s achieved. … I couldn’t be more happy with him right now.”
After an inconsistent 2008 offensively, the Demon Deacons showed off true freshman fullback Tommy Bohanon, improved receiver Jordan Williams and rising redshirt freshmen receivers Chris Givens and Terence Davis.
Kevin Harris also had a rushing TD for the first-team offense. Williams caught four passes for 70 yards.
For the Black squad, Givens had a 65-yard TD run and caught three passes for 39 yards. Davis added three catches for 28 yards. Skylar Jones completed all five passes to challenge Ryan McManus for the backup QB job.
Shoddy tackling plagued the injury-plagued first-team defense, which was without defensive tackle Boo Robinson (back) and cornerback Brandon Ghee (knee).
Grobe is concerned about Robinson, who is recovering from a herniated disc.
“He looks good walking around here on the practice field, but I’ve told him I’ve not seen very many guys miss all winter and all spring and come back in August getting ready to have a great senior year,” Grobe said. “Boo is my No. 1 concern.”
That could mean more will be expected of Skinner and the offense as the Demon Deacons try to repeat 2006’s magical run to the Orange Bowl.
“That seems like a pretty long time ago,” Skinner said. “Hopefully we’ll be back in the championship and we’ll be talking about 2009.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.