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Wake wideout looks to snare postseason bid

It's easy to see why Wake Forest football coach Jim Caldwell and wide receiver Jammie Deese get along - they both know what they want.

Five years ago Caldwell wanted the dynamic young high school senior from Laurinburg N.C. so badly that he started recruiting Deese even before his senior year began. Meanwhile, all Deese wanted to see was some playing time.

"Wake Forest really stuck with me throughout the entire recruiting process," Deese said. "Signing with them gave me the opportunity to contribute as a freshman and that's something I wanted to do."

The rest is history. Ever since signing with the Demon Deacons, Deese has evolved into one of the ACC's premier wide receivers. He also ranks among the best Deacon receivers in history, currently standing second in career catches.

But now there's something else Deese wants in his final year at Wake: to lead his team to a bowl game. Deese knows what it takes to receive a bid, and he's fully committed to helping his team reach that end.

"What matters to me is winning," he said. "Our main focus is to get to a bowl game this year. I feel like that's what I came here to do and that's the goal I want to help my team accomplish."

Deese exploded onto the scene in 1997, scoring a touchdown in each of the Deacons' first three games. He went on to surpass the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career in a game against Georgia Tech, snatching seven passes for a total of 188 yards.

From then on, he never let up.

Deese notched new career highs last year with 12 receptions against N.C. State for an impressive 167 yards. But the sociology major wasn't finished yet.

With one game under his belt in '99, Deese needs 62 catches to set the ACC record for career receptions, held by former teammate Desmond Clark, who hauled in 216 catches in four years.

The quick-handed receiver possesses the elusive footwork and a superior leaping agility that make for a defensive player's worst nightmare. And don't forget about Deese's sprinting ability.

When he's not racing past defenders and up the school career reception list, Deese stays busy cruising by other sprinters as part of the Demon Deacon track team. Last spring he joined fellow football teammates Reggie Austin, Chris Justice and John Stone to form a 4x100-relay team that won the ACC Championship.

"Winning the championship was a big deal for us," Deese said. "We were all football players and we wanted to go out there and represent the team as sprinters. It was definitely a high point."

Deese is one of the football team captains this season, a role he takes seriously.

"I've earned respect for myself and for the team, and I really want to be the person that [my teammates] can call on in crunch time," he said. "I'm ready to step up whenever I need to this year."

How Deese steps up remains to be seen. His final year has brought many changes for the Deacons as a whole. The graduation of three-year starting quarterback Brian Kuklick left the players to adjust to a new driver steering the offense. Plus, Caldwell is switching Wake's offensive scheme from a passing-oriented attack to a smash-mouth running game.

That takes some getting used to. Although Wake Forest throttled Army 34-15 in their season opener, the team still had to make adjustments.

"All across the board we did not have what you'd call an outstanding game," Caldwell said. "It looked just like a first game - a lot of mistakes, a lot of inconsistency."

But Deese is not complaining.

"It's been an adjustment for everyone," he said. "But it hasn't been that difficult. We're determined and willing to do whatever we need to."

No one is arguing that the Deacons have a tough road ahead of them. After struggling through a 5-6 season in 1998, the path to a bowl game is anything but certain.

"We know what we want and we know we have to take things slowly to get there," Deese said. "We're concentrating on winning one game at a time, and hoping it will all add up in the end."

And with Jammie Deese lurking in the end zone, at the 50, and just about everywhere else, a bowl game could be the one goal this team just might catch.