WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Ted Stachitas doesn't want to be known only for the quarterbacks he's replaced. That's not easy when one of them is Tim Tebow.
After taking over for Tebow in high school, Stachitas now is poised to succeed record-breaking Riley Skinner as the man under center for Wake Forest.
"I'm used to everyone's expectations .... and all the questions, the doubts," Stachitas said Tuesday.
So instead of merely being recognized as somebody's replacement, the redshirt sophomore is looking to create an identity of his own — starting Thursday night when the Demon Deacons open against Presbyterian.
That will mark his first start since he was at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in 2007, the year after he inherited Tebow's job. He led Nease to consecutive Florida Class 4A championship games in both years as the starter despite what he said was a prevailing opinion that "people didn't really think we could duplicate what he did with the team."
Meanwhile, down the road in Gainesville, Tebow blossomed into one of the sport's most heralded figures while winning two national championships, two Southeastern Conference titles and a Heisman Trophy.
Nobody's expecting that kind of production from Stachitas, who has a different style than Tebow but a similar habit — a knack for tucking the ball under and running when he needs a yard or two.
That skill could make Stachitas, who rushed for 845 yards and 15 touchdowns as a high school senior, a valuable weapon for a Wake Forest team looking to re-establish its ground game after the Skinner-led offense wound up throwing more often than coach Jim Grobe perhaps was comfortable with.
Teammates say they have something else in common: Intangibles.
They describe Stachitas as more soft-spoken and not as reliant on rah-rah techniques as Tebow is. But they insist he still shows just as much leadership.
"Tim and Ted were similar in the fact that, if they ... didn't find a wide receiver, they were able to run the ball," said Wake Forest linebacker Hunter Haynes, a teammate of both at Nease. "Tim was a little bit different — he was more of a fullback running the ball, and Ted was faster. You do see a little bit of influence from Tim on Ted ... (but) he kind of developed into his own leader and was a different player than Tim."
Stachitas' next task is only slightly less daunting — taking over for the holder of just about every significant passing record in the Wake Forest media guide.
Skinner may have thrown for 9,762 yards and 60 touchdowns in his career, but Stachitas has his eye on another of his marks — his 32 victories as a starter.
"I'm not worried about any of Riley's records or what he's done here," Stachitas said. "He did great, and I respect everything that he did here, but I'm worried about getting wins for our team."
Stachitas played a handful of snaps as a third-stringer last season but has yet to attempt a pass in a game. He wasn't even on the depth chart after spring, but played his way into the starting role with consistent play throughout preseason camp, Grobe said.
"We really wanted to make sure that we made our quarterback earn it," Grobe said. "We didn't just want to flip the coin at the end of practice and find out who it's going to be. From Day 1, we started charting these guys on a lot of things ... and Ted's just accumulated a lead on the other guys, (and) that makes him deserving of being the quarterback. Now, the next step is, he's got to go out Thursday night and prove we made the right decision."