Hinton ready for another shot as Wake Forest’s starting QB
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Kendall Hinton is finally healthy again, back as Wake Forest’s starting quarterback — and not as likely to take as many unnecessary chances on the field.
A knee injury kept him out of the final 10 games last season, and now that he’s at 100 percent, he says the Demon Deacons’ injury-plagued quarterbacks have to do more this year to keep themselves upright.
That’s been a problem over the past few seasons, when both Hinton and John Wolford were beaten up. And while it’s impossible to consciously avoid every potential injury, he says there are some things the QBs can do to help themselves.
“Some things just happen, some things you can’t control,” Hinton said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But taking care of our bodies off the field could be a big component of (staying healthy) as well as playing it safer on the field, and not taking as many big hits and just being smarter.”
Hinton and the rest of the Demon Deacons begin preseason practice Friday, the first of North Carolina’s Atlantic Coast Conference schools to do so.
Coach Dave Clawson says Hinton enters camp as the starter but Wolford — a senior who has made 33 starts in three years — also will take first-team snaps.
“We don’t want to be a two-quarterback system,” Clawson said. “Unfortunately, John and Kendall, neither of those guys have been able to stay healthy the past two years. So I think we’ve got to keep them healthy, and they’ve got to keep themselves healthy, and that will play itself out.”
Hinton sprained his left posterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter of his first start of the season , a victory over Delaware in September. He landed awkwardly while being tackled, and the knee gave out one play later when he went down while running.
School officials initially expected him to miss just two to four weeks, but he said he was shut down for the season in early November because “it wasn’t going as planned” and “they could tell I wasn’t ready and didn’t want to put me out there and be in even more danger.”
So Hinton could only watch as Wolford reassumed the starting position and wound up leading the Demon Deacons to a 7-6 finish and a Military Bowl victory over Temple for the program’s first postseason victory since 2008.
“For two people that are competing for the same job, I’d say we’re as tight as can be,” Hinton said. “John looks out for me all the time, and whatever I can do for John, I’ll do it. We’re in the film room together. Off the field together, we hang out a lot. I feel like it’s a great relationship.”
For his career, Hinton has completed 53 percent of his passes for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns — all as a freshman in 2015 — and has run for nine scores while averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
His personal highlight came in the second game of last season, when the Durham native ushered Wake Forest into his hometown and led four scoring drives in a 24-14 upset of Duke that marked — to that point, anyway — the Demon Deacons’ biggest victory of Clawson’s tenure. He came off the bench to throw for 133 yards, rush for 63 more and was rewarded with the starting job a few days later.
“You try to forget games and put them behind you and move on, but that was one of the first times I really got to showcase my talents,” Hinton said. “It’s a great feeling just being able to win in front of people you grew up with and play against people you know.
“But it’s a new season now, so definitely something I just want to repeat.”