Wake Forest says running back Josh Harris
is ineligible to play his senior season. (Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images)
By Martin Rickman
The Demon Deacons' offensive depth stands to take a hit if running back Josh Harris remains ineligible for his senior season, as the school announced on Thursday. The running back has battled injuries in his three seasons at Wake, but he's been a difference-maker and adds an extra element to the ground game when he's been able to stay on the field.
Harris burst on the scene during his redshirt freshman season by carrying 20 times for 241 yards against Virginia Tech in his first career start. He has shown flashes in the years since, and he recorded 100-yard games against Vanderbilt, Florida State and Army.
A myriad of leg injuries, as well as concussion-like symptoms in 2012, have kept Harris on the sidelines. And now it appears a failed class in the spring could potentially end his collegiate career. The school has submitted a waiver to the NCAA and the league has two weeks to respond. Riley Johnston, an editor at SB Nation's Wake Forest site, Blogger So Dear, explains further:
"There is some confusion in this realm based on what has come from head coach Jim Grobe and different sources that are familiar with the situation," Johnston said. "The constant in the varying stories is that Harris took a class this spring he had failed once before at Wake Forest. He did not pass the class the second time around, and that either put him below the minimum GPA required to be an athlete, or he did not have enough hours in the spring without the class. With Wake Forest switching to a more option-based offense, this hurts a lot to lose the projected starting running back at this point. Even if he regains his eligibility, it remains unclear as to how strained the relationship would be with the coaching staff to get back on the field."
Linebacker Zach Allen is also currently ineligible for academic reasons and the school has submitted a waiver on his behalf.
In Harris' place, the Deacs will turn to redshirt sophomore DeAndre Martin, who rushed for 484 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, as well as redshirt freshman Dominique Gibson. Wake was predicted to finish fourth in the Atlantic division, ahead of Maryland, Syracuse and Boston College, in the preseason ACC media poll. The offense ranked 113th in offensive F/+ ratings last year, and the team needs to get it going -- with or without Harris -- if it hopes to go bowling in 2013.