By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
November 1, 2004 As usual, the month of October was a slow time for ACC football commitments, but Wake Forest proved the exception to the rule. The Demon Deacons added five pledges over the last two weeks alone, bringing their total from the Class of 2005 to 17. Nashville (TN) Montgomery Bell OL Joseph Birdsong, rated one of the top 20 seniors in Tennessee, committed to Wake Forest over Mississippi, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt soon after an Oct. 15-17 official visit to Winston-Salem. Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee and Virginia also showed interest. His father played football for the Commodores. A Division II Class 3A all-state selection, Birdsong didn't give up a sack last fall, contributing to a state championship season for one of the top programs in Tennessee. He plays left tackle in high school but projects as a guard or center in college. Montgomery Bell, which is coached by former NFL quarterback Jeff Rutledge, has numerous former players in the Division I-A ranks this fall, including TE Sam Garner (Mississippi), FB Clark Lea (Vanderbilt), CB Dominique Morris (Vanderbilt), LB Moses Osemwegie (Vanderbilt), OL James Pitman (Rice) and TE Tom Santi (Virginia). Birdsong runs the 40 in 5.3 seconds. He has a 3.0 GPA and a 1,030 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Demon Deacons is defensive coordinator Dean Hood.
"There were other schools where I really liked the football program and got along well with the coaches and all that, but I also wanted a place where I know I'll be happy even when I'm not playing football," Birdsong said. "Wake Forest is a great university, and the players and coaches are great people. That's the environment I was looking for. With football, I also like the fact that they have a lot of really good young players, and they play in a great conference. But the rest of the picture really made them stand out."
Kernersville (NC) Glenn OL Chris De-Geare, rated one of the top 20 seniors in North Carolina, chose Wake Forest over UNC, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech soon after an Oct. 22-24 official visit to Winston-Salem. He lives 20 minutes from the Wake campus. DeGeare also had offers from Army, Clemson and Duke. As a junior, he earned all-area and all-conference honors for a 9-4 team. He benches 340 pounds, squats 520 and runs the 40 in 5.5 seconds. The owner of a 3.5 GPA and an 830 SAT score, DeGeare plans to enroll at Wake in January and study a pre-med curriculum.
"If you had called me six months ago, I don't think Wake Forest was even on my list, but every time I learned more about them I liked them more," DeGeare said. "The coaching staff was a big factor. The more I got to know them, the more comfortable I was committing there. It's obviously a great school, and everyone there treats you with a lot of class and a lot of respect. When you put the football with the academics together, and my family can see me play, it's a perfect situation for me."
Jacksonville (FL) Bartram Trail OL Jeff Griffin, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Florida, picked Wake Forest over interest from Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Iowa, Navy and others. Both of his parents attended Florida State, his childhood favorite, but the Seminoles didn't recruit him very hard. As a junior, Griffin earned first-team all-county and honorable mention all-state honors. When he makes things official with the Demon Deacons in February, he'll become the first player from his high school to sign a Division I-A football scholarship. He benches 330 pounds, squats 470 and runs the 40 in 5.3 seconds. A strong student with a 3.1 GPA and a 910 SAT score, he said he chose Wake in large part because of the school's academic reputation.
"The Wake Forest coaches are really big on asking questions about a player's character and work ethic, and it was easy for me to give Jeff my whole-hearted endorsement," Bartram Trail coach Darrell Sutherland said. "He's one of our team leaders here. He loves to spend time in the weight room, and he never stops working on the field. He's one of the hardest-working kids I've ever seen."
Suwanee (GA) Collins Hill OL Barrett McMillin, rated one of the top
75 seniors in Georgia, opted for Wake Forest over Vanderbilt soon after an Oct.
8-10 official visit to Winston-Salem. Georgia, Georgia Tech and Illinois also
showed interest. His father, Troy McMillin, played offensive guard for the Illini
1978-81. A Wake summer camper, Barrett plays for the largest high school in the state of Georgia. Among the Collins Hill graduates on Division I-A rosters this fall are OL Amir Malayery (Stanford) and OL Kyle Wallace (Georgia Tech). McMillin benches 450 pounds, squats 500 and runs the 40 in 5.5 seconds. He has a 3.3 GPA and an 1,160 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Demon Deacons is quarterbacks coach Jeff Mullen.
"He's just a thick, rugged kid who doesn't back down from anyone or anything," Collins Hill coach Larry Sherrill said. "He's as good as any football player in this area, and that's saying something. We play at the highest (Class 5A) level in the state, and the college coaches will tell you that the competition in Gwinnett County is as good as it gets. This is football country. If you're one of the best here, you can play anywhere."
Lincoln (NE) Southeast OL Tyler "Boomer" Peterson, rated one of the top 10 seniors in Nebraska, selected Wake Forest soon after an Oct. 8-10 official visit to Winston-Salem. Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Northwestern and Wisconsin also showed interest. His initial contact with the Demon Deacons was with the school's track and field coaches, who were pursuing him as a thrower. His high school, Lincoln Southeast, has the most dominant program in Nebraska. Peterson benches 320 pounds, squats 450 and runs the 40 in 5.3 seconds. He has a 3.5 GPA and a 22 ACT score.
"A lot of people are going to be kicking themselves for missing out on this kid," Southeast coach Chuck Mizerski said. "He didn't really dedicate himself to football and to the weights until the last year or so, so it would have been easy to miss him (in 2003). Now he has the strength and the power to go with his natural size. This is someone who's going to end up at least 6-6 and 300-plus pounds with more time in the weight room. The Wake Forest coaches saw how coordinated he is when they watched him throw the shot put (on tape), and they were the first to come through with a scholarship offer. In a few years, I think a lot of other people are going to wish they had offered, too."
Hurricanes Land Prep All-American
Jupiter (FL) High DE Courtney Harris, rated one of the top 25 defensive linemen in the nation, committed to Miami over Florida, Georgia and LSU. He also had offers from Central Florida, Minnesota, N.C. State and Tennessee. The Hurricanes were the first team to offer him a scholarship, back in March. He's the most highly recruited player at Jupiter since 1993, when center Craig Page signed with Georgia Tech and went on to become an All-American and an NFL player. A first-team all-conference and second-team all-area selection, Harris had 75 tackles and seven sacks as a junior. He benches 330 pounds, squats 350 and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. With a 2.2 GPA and an 18 ACT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is tight ends coach Mario Cristobal.