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Jamie Newman Starring for Wake Forest

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Jamie Newman's start is one of the hottest in the ACC in a generation.

There are currently five Power Five quarterbacks nationally averaging over 300 yards passing per game with more than ten passing touchdowns: LSU's Joe Burrow, Washington State's Anthony Gordon, Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Jamie Newman from Wake Forest. Relatively quietly, the latter, the first half of the season, has established himself as one of the top players in all of college football. Newman is the catalyst for the undefeated, 19th-ranked Demon Deacons -- and a talent worthy of national attention.

For further point of reference, Newman has a higher passer rating than Notre Dame's Ian Book and is mere decimal points behind Justin Herbert of Oregon, a player some are touting as the potential number one overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That measure, mind you, doesn't take Newman's rushing production into account; of the nation's top 40 passing leaders, only Hurts has more yards on the ground than Newman with 262. 
 
Newman, simply put, is a star. That said, his value can be found in the complexities. In leading a top ten offense in all of college football, Newman has taken the field with a confidence and comfortability that has made Wake Forest one of the best teams in the country in key situations. With Newman at the helm, the Demon Deacons rank fifth nationally with a third down conversion rate of 54.44%. Wake Forest has the most third down conversions, 49, of any team.  

Every single game this season has been a showcase for Newman. Notably, he opened the season with a career-high 401 passing yards in a win over Utah State. For an encore the very next week, Newman set a new career-high with a 211.52 passer rating, 21-of-27 for 312 yards and three touchdowns, at Rice. Newman had multiple rushing scores in Wake Forest's win over North Carolina. He threw a personal-best five touchdowns against Elon. Recently, Newman recorded his first-ever 100-yard rushing game at Boston College. The progression has been near-perfect.  

There is a nuance to Newman that makes him great. In the diverse and dynamic offense of head coach Dave Clawson and coordinator Warren Ruggiero, Newman's ability to read and react is the starting point for his team's offensive success. Newman, from utilizing the delayed option to checking through his progressions downfield, has a savvy skill set that is now on full display. Under Newman's lead, Wake Forest has the only offense in the ACC with a top four passing and rushing offense leaguewide.

Newman's start is one of the hottest in the ACC in a generation. He is one of just nine league quarterbacks since 2000 with 1,500 passing yards five games into a season, a list which includes current NFL starters Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Mitch Trubisky and Lamar Jackson. Of that group, only Rivers, his freshman year, had more touchdowns than Newman currently does with 14. Only Trubisky and Rivers, his sophomore season, had a higher passer rating than Newman at 169.6.

Count in Newman's rushing totals and the historic company he keeps he is even more rare. Five games into a season this millenium, he, Jackson, Robert Griffin III and Jalen Hurts are the only Power Five signal callers with at least 1,500 yards passing and 250 yards rushing. 

For all of Newman's production and proficiency, leadership may be his most important trait. Since he took over the starting job last November, the Demon Deacons are 8-1. The only Power Five quarterback in college football with a better record than Newman over the past nine games is Trevor Lawrence from defending national champion Clemson. Newman is winning, emerging as one of the best quarterbacks in the country along the way.         

With upcoming games against Florida State, Virginia Tech and the undefeated Tigers, Newman will have further opportunities to add to his growing reputation. The spotlight, for both Newman and the Demon Deacons, is shining.  A win over Louisville this weekend would make Wake Forest 6-0 for the first time since 1944, the lone such start in school history.

The Demon Deacons are one of the best stories in college football. Newman, one of the premier quarterbacks in the nation, is too.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports