Wake Forest will be without starting quarterback Sam Hartman for "an extended period of time" because of a non-football-related issue, the school announced Wednesday, but head coach Dave Clawson insisted Hartman will return at some point this season.
Clawson said Hartman underwent "a medical procedure" Tuesday night after seeking medical attention during a workout earlier in the day. The school did not specify the nature of the situation, citing privacy laws, but Clawson said it was "one of those things that could happen to any one of us."
Clawson said he did not want to speculate on a timetable for Hartman's return, but the QB, who accounted for 50 touchdowns last season, was at practice Wednesday and addressed the team afterward.
"He just wanted those guys to see him and know he's OK," Clawson said. "He wanted to come out here with a smile and see his teammates. He's in a good place. ... He's a guy that's extremely motivated. Football's very important to him, he loves Wake Forest, and he just said, 'Guys, I'll be fine.'"
Hartman led Wake Forest to an Atlantic Division title last season and a Gator Bowl victory. He's one of just 16 Power 5 QBs in history to post a 50-touchdown season.
Hartman sought assistance from the training staff during workouts Tuesday, and tests illuminated an issue that, Clawson said, required medical intervention. In a statement released by the school, Hartman said he was eager to begin rehabilitation.
"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. "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 started as a freshman for Wake in 2018 before going down with an injury late in the season. Jamie Newman took over the offense then and held the job through much of 2019. Hartman regained the starting job in 2020 and accounted for 65 touchdowns in 23 games since.
"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. "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."
With Hartman sidelined, Mitch Griffis will be the starting quarterback in the interim. Griffis is the last Wake QB to throw a TD aside from Hartman -- that came late against Clemson in the 2020 opener.
Hartman has another year of eligibility remaining, and while he'd repeatedly said he was unlikely to return for 2023, he did leave the door open in the case of unforeseen circumstances.
"My sights are set," Hartman said in July. "To be worried about that now, what's the point? It could be that's the best option ... but I'm excited for this to be it and ready for the next chapter and really locked into this year."