By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
Last year, no one in the Atlantic Coast Conference was as active as Wake Forest’s Michael Campanaro. The Clarksville, Md., native hauled in 79 receptions last year despite missing three games due to a broken hand.
His 7.9 receptions per game ranked eighth nationally and was the second best season-average in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. But Campanaro’s numbers don’t stop there. He can also return punts and kickoffs. He has a 23.7 yards per kick return average in his career and he is averaging 7.1 yards per punt return, including a 50-yard return against Clemson in 2011.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound receiver is also pretty good at running the ball as he has averaged 4.6 yards per carry on 47 attempts.
“I would say he is the most versatile player we’ve ever had here,” Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said. “He literally can do everything. We can play him at running back. We can play him at any of the receiver positions.
“I think we have a couple of pretty good corners, but Michael could play corner or safety on the defense if we wanted him to. He can do all of our special teams stuff. He’s going to be our punt returner, but he’d be good at kickoff returns and he’d be good at blocking punts. He would be a really good Wildcat quarterback, too.”
Campanaro can even throw the football if asked to as well. He has thrown three touchdown passes in his career from 40, 36 and 39 yards out.
“I like that I can show other teams that whatever my coaches want, I can deliver,” the senior said.
And that’s what makes Campanaro so dangerous. No one really knows what he is going to do when he gets his hands on the football. He will be even more dangerous this year now that Wake is going back to its old roots under Grobe, ditching the high-flying passing attack for the spread option.
Campanaro will mostly line up in the slot and will be carrying, catching and throwing the football out of several different formations.
“I will definitely be getting some more carries this year, I think. I just want to be as versatile as I can be because I definitely think it can help,” he said.
With Campanaro taking hand-offs from his slot position, it should open up things for wide receivers Orville Reynolds and Airyn Willis.
“It should definitely open up some deep balls for some guys on the outside,” Campanaro said. “We are still going to be throwing the football a good amount. We will probably be throwing the ball at least thirty times a game, but we are trying to get more balanced and run the ball a little more.
“We are changing the way we run the football. We have not been that good running the ball the last couple of years and this will change up our system. If we can get that running game going, I think it will open up the passing game and that will be great.”