Wake Forest star quarterback Sam Hartman will be out indefinitely due to a "non-football related medical condition," the school announced Wednesday. The fifth-year junior sought medical attention on Tuesday, and the results of subsequent testing have forced his indefinite leave from the team.
Hartman is the program's all-time leader in touchdown passes with 72 and was instrumental in leading the Demon Deacons to an 11-3 record in 2021. A timeline for his return has not been set, though Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said Wednesday that he expects Hartman to return this season. In the meantime, redshirt freshman Mitch Griffis will take over quarterback duties for the Demon Deacons as they prepare for their season opener vs. VMI on Thursday, Sept. 1.
"Tuesday was a frustrating day, but I am extremely grateful for our medical staff and for Dr. Chris Miles and Niles Fleet for staying with me throughout this process," Hartman said in a statement. "I look forward to attacking this rehabilitation process and I am so appreciative of the support I have received from my family, teammates and coaches."
Hartman earned second team All-ACC honors last season while throwing for a school-record 4,228 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also ran for 11 touchdowns as the Demon Deacons matched the school record for most victories in a season.
"Sam Hartman is the true embodiment of a leader and is one of the finest young men I have ever had the pleasure to coach," Clawson said in a statement. "As a two-time captain and coming off record-setting seasons in 2020 and 2021, Sam was intensely-focused on the betterment of his teammates throughout the entire offseason and helping our program continue to achieve great things on the field. Additionally, he is an incredible person in the community and in the classroom. We'll look forward to having Sam back on the field as soon as he can and in the meantime Sam and his family have the full support of our coaching staff and program in his recovery."
Hartman finished second in the voting for ACC preseason honors behind NC State quarterback Devin Leary, and he will be difficult for the Demon Deacons to replace if he has to miss significant game action. But beyond his mere ability and statistical production, Clawson also highlighted at ACC Kickoff last month what Hartman brings from an intangibles standpoint.
"He has become such a good leader for our program," Clawson said. "Sam is a guy that his teammates like playing with him and for him. He has developed great relationships with the offensive linemen, our defensive football players, and I always think that leadership is the element that can bond and elevate a football team."
Next man up
The Demon Deacons have a pair of former three-star prospects with some playing experience on the roster, and it sounds like Griffis is stepping in to the top spot on the depth chart during Hartman's absence. The third-year freshman appeared in eight games during his first two seasons, completing 4 of 15 passes for 56 yards during that span. Another option is fourth-year sophomore Michael Kern, who appeared in 11 games during his first three seasons in the program and is 21-for-38 passing with 370 yards in his career.
Both players have multiple years of experience in the program and, presumably, a high level of comfort in Clawson's system. With star receiver A.T. Perry and a pair of 500-yard running backs returning along with a seasoned offensive line, the Demon Deacons should still field a competent offense even amid Hartman's absence.