Clawson Scrambles To Put Together Class At Wake Forest
By Kevin Smith
The Demon Deacons looked to make a big recruiting splash after a rocky 4-8 finish last season.
Former head coach Jim Grobe resigned on Dec. 2, 2013, after five consecutive losing seasons. Wake Forest hired Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson, who posted a 10-3 record and led the Falcons to a MAC championship in 2013 campaign.
Clawson didn't have much time to put together a recruiting class. He scrambled to recruit and sign 26 players, 11 of them with 3 stars based on skill. Two have committed but have not signed yet. Wake Forest's class ranks at No. 55 on Rivals.com, 66 on Scout.com, and 67 on ESPN.com.
Nonetheless, the Clawson era has begun in Wake Forest.
Here is an analysis on some of the recruits.
Head Of The Class
Three-star tight end Devin Pike ranked No. 32 in the nation at his position. Pike should challenge senior Daniel Vogelsang for the role of starting tight end. With his eyes set on Louisville, Pike committed to Wake on Jan. 29 then signed on Feb. 5.
The Demon Deacons' biggest needs are at quarterback and wide receiver.
Wake Forest's starting quarterback Tanner Price, a senior last season, is done. Two quarterbacks remained on the depth chart before signing day: senior Patrick Thompson and sophomore Tyler Cameron.
Clawson went after two quarterback prospects in Travis Smith (Ithaca, Mich.) and John Wolford (Jacksonville, Fla.); both are touted recruits. Smith has a legitimate chance of jumping the returnees and starting in Wake’s season opener against Louisiana-Monroe in August. Wolford isn’t far behind if Smith fails to deliver.
Smith had a legendary high school career. The quarterback went 41-0 as the starter and led his team to three consecutive championship titles. Wolford threw 126 touchdowns in his high school career, which broke the Florida state record set by none other than Tim Tebow. A quarterback competition between Smith, Wolford, and Cameron could be an interesting show.
Wake Forest currently has three wide receivers on the roster, all seniors. With top wideout Michael Campanaro gone, the team needed a wideout for the future. They snatched three-star Jaylan Barbour from North Carolina. He could potentially be second or third string and contribute in 2014.
A legitimate steal for the Demon Deacons is defensive tackle Isaiah “Zeek" Rodney (Rock Hill, S.C.). Eleven other teams pursued the defensive tackle. Marshall and Syracuse made strong cases, and ACC rivals UNC, Clemson and Boston College also tried, but Wake Forest swooped in and nabbed Rodney. Ranked as the No. 40 defensive tackle in the country by Rivals, Zeek could be a difference maker for his new team. Zeek is filling the void left by three-time All-ACC performer Nikita Whitlock, who is headed to the NFL.
Zack Wary from Arkansas could very well be the under-the-radar prospect who makes a huge splash not only at Wake Forest, but in the ACC. The inside linebacker is perfect for the 4-2-5 defense and in the ‘rover’ position that Clawson and his staff will incorporate next season. Wary has the ability to bounce from linebacker to safety with his size. The redshirt-freshman also may have a lasting impact as a leader in the Demon Deacons locker room.
What The Class Means
The 2014 class isn’t Wake Forest's strongest group, but some of the prospects stand out as potential leaders for the program. With no recruits higher than three stars on any college football recruiting site, it is too early to tell which players will make the biggest impact. Clawson has his work cut out next season, but if anything what he did in Bowling Green translates to Wake, the Demon Deacons could have an improved season ahead.