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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, ranking 20th overall in the country last year. Deese 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: He wants to lead his team to a bowl game. Deese knows what it takes to receive a bowl 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 reached new career highs last year with 12 receptions against N.C. State for an impressive 167 yards. But the junior sociology major wasn't finished yet.

This year, Deese needs 62 catches to shatter the ACC record for receptions in a career, held by former teammate Desmond Clark, who tallied 216 receptions 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 Deacons' track team. Last spring he joined with 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."

He admits that the time commitment necessary for two varsity sports is strenuous, but in the end it's the competition that drives him to handle such a hectic schedule.

"Track is more individual," he added. "You're racing against other people but you really only have yourself and a few other people to count on. In football there's an entire team that has to depend on each other all the time."

Aside from the competitiveness of the gridiron, Deese said he enjoys the camaraderie that comes with working with his teammates every day on the field.

"Everyone has to work together," he said. "Once you get everything clicking and everyone on the same page, then you start winning. That's why I'm out there. That's what I love."

Deese is also one of the 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."

This year has brought many changes for Deese and the rest of the Deacons. The graduation of three-year starting quarterback Brian Kuklick left the players to adjust to a new driver behind the offensive wheel. Add to that the switch from an offensive passing game to a 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. Adjustments are part of the game, and the faster the teams learns to handle change, the easier it will become to reach their goal, he said.

"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're trying not to think about the future right now," Deese said. "We know what we want and we know we have to take things slowly to get there. 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.