Here's an inside look at Wake Forest's 2014 recruiting class.
Head Coach: Dave Clawson
Total Number of Expected Signees: 26
National Recruiting Rankings
Rivals.com: No. 77 (2002), No. 57 (2003), No. 95 (2004), No. 65 (2005), No. 75 (2006), No. 89 (2007), No. 58 (2008), No. 64 (2009), No. 69 (2010), No. 69 (2011), No. 69 (2012), No. 57 (2013) under Jim Grobe
Scout.com: No. 58 (2002), No. 42 (2003), No. 61 (2004), No. 60 (2005), No. 65 (2006), No. 63 (2007), No. 67 (2008), No. 56 (2009), No. 62 (2010), No. 73 (2011), No. 73 (2012), No. 61 (2013) under Jim Grobe.
247Sports.com: No. 71 (2010), No. 70 (2011), No. 66 (2012), No. 67 (2013) under Jim Grobe
ACC Ranking (Rivals.com): No. 9 (2002), No. 7 (2003), No. 11 (2004), No. 12 (2005), No. 12 (2006), No. 12 (2007), No. 10 (2008), No. 11 (2009), No. 11 (2010), No. 10 (2011), No. 12 (2012), No. 10 (2013)
2014 Wake Forest ACC & National Rankings By Network:
ESPN: No. 14 ACC, No. 63 overall nationally
Rivals.com: No. 13 ACC, No. 58 overall nationally
Scout.com: No. 13 ACC, No. 64 overall nationally
247Sports.com: No. 14 ACC, No. 62 overall nationally
Signee Breakdown by Star Rating:
Rivals.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (0), Three Stars (12), Two Stars (14)
Scout.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (0), Three Stars (12), Two Stars (14)
247Sports.com: Five Stars (0), Four Stars (0), Three Stars (23), Two Stars (3)
States Represented (13): North Carolina (6), Florida (4), Georgia (4), Alabama (2), Ohio (1), Texas (2), Virginia (2), Arkansas (1), Maryland (1), Michigan (1), Mississippi (1), New Jersey (1), South Carolina (1)
January (Spring Semester) Enrollees: Jaboree Williams
Unconfirmed Academics: Terence Ricks, Justin Herron
Breakdown by Position: Offensive Linemen (4), Defensive Backs (4), Defensive Linemen (4), Linebackers (3), Quarterbacks (3), Wide Receivers (3), Running Backs (3), Tight Ends (1), Kickers (1)
Derrick Jackson, a holdover from the Jim Grobe staff, was a real bridge for this recruiting class for Wake Forest. Jackson was specifically involved with several recruits, including in-state talents Lemar Harris, a dual-threat quarterback from Raleigh, and Nick Luedeke, an offensive lineman from Holly Springs (N.C.), as well as Chesapeake (Va.) defensive back DaiQuan Lawrence, Houston defensive back Thomas Dillon, and Princeton (N.J.) offensive lineman Ryan Anderson. But Jackson also helped keep the entire Demon Deacon class together by reaching out to numerous committed recruits after Grobe’s departure from Winston-Salem and filling the gaps before Clawson’s arrival and formulation of a new staff. Jackson’s late efforts on the recruiting trail after the first of the year helped keep Wake’s class together and added to it significantly, and it didn’t go unnoticed by Clawson. The new Wake Forest head coach elected to retain Jackson on his first Demon Deacon staff.
10 Key Misses
Charlotte (N.C.) wide receiver Austin Proehl (North Carolina), Ashburn (Va.) wide receiver Melvin Holland, Jr. (Minnesota), Lawton (Okla.) running back Michael Warren (Iowa State), Hampton (Ga.) linebacker DeMarquis Gates (Ole Miss), High Point (N.C.) linebacker Germaine Pratt (N.C. State), Raleigh (N.C.) tight end Avery Edwards (North Carolina), Winston-Salem (N.C.) defensive tackle Deshaywn Middleton (Duke), Mocksville (N.C.) offensive lineman Tripp McNeill (Duke), Marietta (Ga.) defensive back Allen Artis (North Carolina), Hampton (Va.) defensive tackle Ricky Walker (Virginia Tech)
WAKE FOREST RECRUITING STORYLINES
• In terms of how this signing class came together for Wake Forest, it was significantly different from a lot of other recent Demon Deacon classes, which is to be understood, given the transition from Jim Grobe to Dave Clawson. In 2012 and 2013, the Demon Deacons got much of their classes put together during the summer months. But this year with the first coaching change in Winston-Salem in well over a decade, things happened much later. Wake Forest had 13 verbal commitments at the time of Jim Grobe’s resignation in early December, but after Clawson came aboard, things started happening pretty quickly. The first addition to the Wake Forest class under Clawson was Jacksonville (Fla.) quarterback John Wolford, who pledged to the Demon Deacons less than a week after the hiring of the former Bowling Green coach. Starting with the commitment of Suwanee (Ga.) running back/athlete Tyler Henderson January 20, the Demon Deacons landed 13 commitments over the last two and a half weeks prior to National Signing Day. Over that same period of time in the 2013 recruiting cycle, the Demon Deacons got just five verbal commitments. Late in this cycle, the Demon Deacons plundered new ACC Atlantic Division rival Louisville, snagging two commitments away from the Cardinals (Cincinnati tight end Devin Pike and Fort Pierce (Fla.) defensive end Rashawn Shaw) in late January.
• In terms of the number of states represented, this is the most spread-out class for Wake Forest since Rivals.com and Scout.com started producing recruiting rankings in 2002. Thanks in large part to the coaching transition and essentially two sets of coaches luring talent from all over the country, the Demon Deacons are bringing in prospects this National Signing Day from at least 13 different states. Over much of the Jim Grobe era, Wake Forest did a large chunk of its recruiting in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. As a result, in seven out of eight classes for Wake Forest from 2004 to 2011, the Demon Deacons signed prospects from no more than seven states in any single signing class. This recruiting cycle, the Demon Deacons got commitments in places from which they’re not used to landing a lot of talent, including Arkansas and Mississippi, while the numbers in Florida are considerably down. This marks the second straight class that Wake Forest is bringing in five or fewer Floridians after loading the roster with Sunshine State products for much of the Grobe era.
• This is the first time in recent memory that Wake Forest is bringing in a full class of 25 or more signees. Due to its high graduation rates and relatively low attrition, Wake Forest’s football program rarely signs its full allotment of scholarships each year. In fact, over Wake Forest’s nine recruiting classes from 2004 to 2012, only one of those classes had more than 20 signees, as the 2013 class had 23. The 2013 signing class equaled the 2009 number with 23 signees as the largest Wake Forest signing class over the last decade prior to this year’s collection of prospects. Going back to 2002, when Rivals.com and Scout.com first started doing recruiting rankings, Wake Forest signed 23 or more players just twice (2003 and 2009) before the last two classes (each have had 23 or more signees).
• Wake Forest put together a couple of ‘package deals’ in this signing class. That is, a pair of high school teammates who both wound up choosing the Demon Deacons. Chesapeake (Va.)’s Western Branch High School is the home of two pledges in this Wake Forest class---defensive back DaiQuan Lawrence and running back Terence Ricks---who helped lead the Bruins to a 10-2 record this past fall and a state playoff appearance in Virginia’s highest classification (6A). The Demon Deacons also got a pair of all-purpose standouts from Demopolis High School in Alabama---Demetrius Kemp and Cortez Lewis. Kemp and Lewis helped lead the Tigers to a 7-4 overall record in 2013. This is the second straight signing class that Wake Forest is bringing in a pair of high school teammates, as the Demon Deacons signed offensive linemen Cory Helms and Josh Harris out of Milton High School in Alpharetta (Ga.) in the 2013 class.
Wake Forest Signee Profiles
Devin Pike, TE (6-6, 225) Cincinnati (OH) Elder
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 49 in Ohio)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 32 tight end, No. 63 in Ohio)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 56 tight end, No. 69 in Ohio)
Lead Recruiter(s): Adam Scheier
Pike was one of two Louisville commitments who Dave Clawson and his staff compelled to switch to Wake Forest after the departure of Charlie Strong to Texas. Elder put together a solid high school career, recording approximately 60 catches for over 650 receiving yards over his final two seasons at Elder High School. As a senior, he led Elder to a 9-3 overall record and a state playoff appearance. “(Pike) is the most complete tight end we saw in action this season with his ability to stretch the field and block. While Pike only posted 432 receiving yards with two scores, it was his ability to block that earned him a spot on our team,” said Scout.com’s Dave Berk upon naming Pike to his Southwest Ohio Super 25 team after the 2013 season.
Zeek Rodney, DT (6-1, 260) Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 40 defensive tackle, No. 19 in South Carolina)
Scout.com Ranking: (Unranked)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 29 defensive tackle, No. 11 in South Carolina)
Lead Recruiter(s): Mike Elko, Dave Cohen
Rodney is an athletic interior defensive lineman in the mold of former Demon Deacons standout Nikita Whitlock, and who played at the same high school as likely 2014 NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe). Rodney emerged as a collegiate recruit as a sophomore in 2011 with 94 tackles and 17 tackles for loss, and followed that up his junior year with a stellar 2012 season that included 26 sacks and 27 tackles for loss, earning Rodney Defensive Player of the Year honors in South Carolina by High School Sports News. As a senior he recorded 77 tackles, 12 sacks, and 16 tackles for loss, playing through a hamstring injury for much of the 2013 season to lead his school to a 10-3 overall record. Rodney won a state championship at Southe Point High in 2011, and reached the state semifinals in 2012 and 2013. He earned a spot on South Carolina’s ‘Sandlappers’ squad for the annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas in Spartanburg (S.C.) in December after his senior season.
Justin Herron, OL (6-6, 285) Potomac (Md.) Bullis School
Rivals.com Ranking: (No. 57 offensive tackle, No. 21 in Maryland)
Scout.com Ranking: (No. 71 offensive tackle, No. 18 in Maryland)
247Sports.com Ranking: (No. 84 offensive tackle, No. 24 in Maryland)
Lead Recruiter(s): Jonathan Himebauch
Herron was a part of Wake Forest’s late run of switches, as the new coaches compelled the Maryland offensive tackle prospect to de-commit from Rutgers and re-pledge to the Demon Deacons following a late official visit to Winston-Salem. "I love Rutgers, but I feel like Wake Forest is a better fit for me because it is a small school and I go to a small school," Herron said to Rivals.com’s Adam Friedman January 29, the day he switched from Rutgers to Wake. "I don't think I would fit well at a big school with large classes. The education was a big part of my decision. On the (Wake Forest official) visit I saw the business school and it was fantastic. That was a big thing that sold me. Another big thing was the family feel at Wake Forest. Some places that recruited me just saw me as a regular guy that wasn't part of the family. The guys at Wake Forest treated me like one of the guys." Following his senior season at Potomac’s Bullis School, Herron played in the Maryland Crab Bowl, an All-Star game featuring the top prospects in Washington D.C. facing off against the top prospects from the Baltimore area. Herron was named the game’s MVP after helping lead the D.C. area squad to a 30-21 victory.
Why They Chose Wake Forest ...
It was kind of a feeling. You always want to go to a place you love. I just felt that connection with all the coaches, and that's really why I just chose to go there. I'm all Wake Forest. I feel like I can come up there and change the football program around. Wake Forest is a throwing team. Me being at receiver, I enjoy that a lot. When Camp (veteran receiver Michael Campanaro) leaves I will be filling that position. Well, working for the position.
---Monroe (N.C.) wide receiver Jaylan Barbour to DeaconsIllustrated.com
I really liked the small campus size (at Wake Forest). I'd like to do something in sports management after I graduate and Wake Forest has one of the best business schools in the country. Playing in the ACC will give me a big platform to perform on. Wake Forest is going to have one of the best secondaries in the nation. I like to watch them and everything they do defensively. They have some guys with a great chance at the NFL and that's what I want to be a part of. I think that coach Clawson is someone who has a history of turning programs around. He could be the coach to get Wake Forest over the hump and get them back to the top half of the ACC.
---Houston (Tex.) defensive back Thomas Dillon to TexasSportsReport.com and DeaconSports.com
I'm excited about when they were talking about teaching. I was worried about the academics---that it was going to be hard to get it---but with the small classrooms everyone's saying that it's going to be a lot easier. That's what I'm kind of excited about. (Location is) a real big thing, because my mom was really worried about me going far away from home, so now that I'm going to be close she's really happy about that.
---McLeansville (N.C.) linebacker Kalin McNeil to DeaconsIllustrated.com
The difference maker for me was the class sizes. Wake Forest is a private institution and their classes are about 25 people instead of 200. I wanted to receive a hands-on education and not just be another name or number in the class. I think I'll be able to learn more in a smaller classroom setting. Wake Forest won the ACC in 2006. They need playmakers at linebacker like they had (in those days). I think what they're lacking is leadership at linebacker and I'm ready to come in and take on that responsibility.
---Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) linebacker Jaboree Williams to DeaconSports.com