Who is John Wolford? A look at the quarterback Rams are pinning their playoff hopes on in Week 17

The Los Angeles Rams are on the brink of clinching a playoff spot, but there’s one problem: starting quarterback Jared Goff is unlikely to play in the regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals due to a thumb injury. The former No. 1 overall pick reportedly suffered a broken and dislocated right thumb, and underwent surgery on Monday. All the Rams have to do on Sunday is beat the Cardinals and they officially clinch a postseason spot. So who is Sean McVay pinning his playoff hopes to? The answer is John Wolford.

Wolford is an undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest who has never thrown a pass in an NFL regular-season game, but there is plenty to like about this kid. From a famous coach who showed early interest in him to future NFL MVPs he once defeated, Rams fans are hoping they witness the birth of a star this weekend. If you’re unfamiliar with John Wolford, let’s get you caught up. 

Recruited by Lincoln Riley

Wolford attended Bishop Kenny high school in Jacksonville, Florida. According to his 247Sports Composite Rating, he was a three-star recruit but did have a famous suitor. Former East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley saw something in Wolford, and unsuccessfully tried to recruit him to ECU. That’s right, the four-time Big 12 champion and the 2018 Big 12 Coach of the Year was interested in Wolford. He did end up heading north to the state of North Carolina, but attended Wake Forest instead. 

Wolford had a pretty successful college career. He set school records as a senior with a 157.98 efficiency rating, 3,192 passing yards, 29 touchdown passes, 3,875 total offense yards, 39 touchdowns responsible for in a season and 78 total in his career, according to Wake Forest’s official website. Wolford also set Wake Forest bowl game records with 49 passing attempts, 32 completions, 400 yards and four touchdown passes in a win over Texas A&M in the Belk Bowl. One of the more notable performances he registered in his career was leading the Demon Deacons to a 42-32 win over Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals. Wolford completed 28 of 34 passes for 461 yards and five touchdowns in the statement win, and he will potentially have another chance to down a Heisman Trophy winner in Kyler Murray this Sunday. 

A “Hotshot” from the start

After Wolford went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, he got a shot with the New York Jets, but they ended up parting ways with him prior to the regular season. Wolford then decided to go another route, and signed up to play in the brand new Alliance of American Football. He was selected by the Arizona Hotshots with their second-round pick and eventually won the starting job over Trevor Knight. Wolford’s four-touchdown performance in the Hotshots’ first regular-season game earned him the Week 1 AAF Offensive Player of the Week, and it appeared early on that he was going to be one of the more notable names in this new football league. 

A preseason highlight reel

Wolford has created some incredible highlights during his short time with the Rams. After the AAF folded, he signed with Los Angeles and ended up securing a spot on the Rams practice squad. He did enough to earn a reserve/future contract, and found his way to the active roster. Wolford hasn’t thrown a pass during a regular-season game, but check out some of these highlights from the preseason:

It would be quite the story if Wolford was able to lead the Rams to the playoffs in his first career start. It speaks volumes that McVay has confidence in this former undrafted free agent to step up and play well when the team desperately needs a win.

Published: 2020-12-30 16:27:27

Tags: #John #Wolford #quarterback #Rams #pinning #playoff #hopes #Week

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