Leaning on experience, Dave Clawson took 'whole team' recruiting approach

'We felt we made up a lot of ground in a short amount of time'

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson (AP file photo)

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson (AP file photo)

First-year Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson and his staff hit the ground running in February with a signing class of 26 - a total of 22 freshman signees, three freshmen who enrolled in January, and one graduate transfer.

Wake Forest's signing class included 14 players on offense and 11 on defense with one specialist. The 26 players come from 12 states.

Three recent high school graduates enrolled in January for the start of the spring semester. The trio includes offensive linemen Ryan Anderson (6-6, 280) from The Hun School in Princeton, N.J. and Nick Luedeke (6-5, 245) from Holly Springs, N.C. as well as linebacker Jaboree Williams (6-0, 210) from Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Joining the program as a graduate transfer is E.J. Scott. Scott, a 5-11, 185-pound wide receiver, played three seasons at Virginia where he caught 32 passes for 420 yards and also returned kicks

Twenty two of Wake Forest's 25 high school signees served as team captains during their high school career.

Among the offensive skill position players, the Deacons are bringing in a pair of quarterbacks.

Travis Smith (6-2, 190) led Ithaca, Michigan High to three consecutive state championships and compiled a 41-0 record as the starting quarterback. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan.

Jacksonville, Florida Bishop Kenny quarterback John Wolford (6-1, 208) was an honorable mention Parade All-American after throwing for 126 career touchdowns to break Tim Tebow's state record.

The Deacons landed a pair of running backs in Tyler Henderson from Lawrenceville, Ga. Collins Hill and Isaiah Robinson from Charlotte Independence. Henderson (5-9, 180) was a second team all-state pick and the Gwinnett County Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,554 yards and 23 touchdowns last fall. Robinson (5-10, 223) rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and scored 20 touchdowns in 2013.

Wake Forest added three wide receivers and a tight end in addition to Scott. Devin Pike (6-6, 225) joins the Deacons from Elder High School in Cincinnati, Ohio where he was an all-city choice in both football and basketball. Both of his brothers played football at the University of Cincinnati. As wideouts, the Deacons signed Kameron Uter (pronounced YOU-tur), a 6-4, 215-pound dual-sport threat. Uter has also been highly recruited for his baseball skills where he is a pitcher and outfielder. Jaylan Barbour (5-10, 170) from Monroe, NC will join the receiving corps after a 46-catch senior season. Cortez Lewis (6-1, 192) is a Demopolis, Ala. native who was a three-time all-county pick in west Alabama.

The Deacons signed three offensive linemen in addition to Anderson and Luedeke. They include Justin Herron (6-5, 285) from Silver Spring, MD, Patrick Osterhage (6-4, 285) from Centerville, OH and A'Lique Terry (6-1, 299) from Hialeah, FL. Herron (pronounced hur-RON) was the MVP of the Maryland Crab Bowl All-Star game, Osterhage comes from Centerville which has put more linemen into Division I football than any other high school in Ohio, and Terry was an all-state and all-county player who was ranked among the top 15 players in the nation at his position. Luedeke, an early enrollee, ranked among the top 15 players in the nation at center while Anderson spent a post graduate year at The Hun School after playing at Wakefield High near Raleigh.

Wake Forest added 11 defensive players including four linemen, three linebackers and four defensive backs.

The linemen include Chris Stewart (6-3, 245) from Petal, Miss., Isaiah "Zeek" Rodney from Rock Hill, SC (South Pointe), Rashawn Shaw (6-3, 230) from Fort Pierce, Fla. Central and Willie Yarbary (6-2, 270) from Augusta, Ga. (Richmond Academy). Stewart had 91 tackles as a senior, Shaw was a Class 8A first team all-state selection in Florida, Rodney represented his home state in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and Yarbary was his region's defensive player of the year in 2013.

The linebacking corps includes Kalin McNeil (6-1, 190) from Northeast Guilford HS near Greensboro, Zack Wary (6-4, 220) from Rogers, Ark., and Williams. McNeil was Northeast Guilford's defensive MVP as a senior and Wary was his region's defensive player of the year. Williams was an honorable mention all-state pick in Florida's Class 7A.

Four newcomers dot the secondary. Thomas Dillon (5-10, 170) from Houston, Texas (Kinkaid School), Cameron Glenn (6-1, 185) from Stone Mountain, Ga. Stephenson, Demetrius Kemp (6-1, 186) from Demopolis, Ala. and DaiQuan Lawrence (6-0, 180) from Chesapeake, Va. Western Branch. Kemp was his county's defensive player of the year and a high school teammate with receiver Cortez Lewis at Demopolis. Dillon had 16 career interceptions and was the private school player of the year in Houston. Glenn was an all-county pick and comes from Stephenson High which has had over 25 Division I signees over the last two years. Lawrence had five interceptions last fall and was considered among the top 50 players at his position nationally.

The lone specialist is placekicker Adam Centers from Coppell, Texas. Centers is ranked the No. 2 kicking recruit in the nation by some services and earned all-state honors in Texas. He had a 51-yard field goal as a junior and a 52-yarder as a senior.

Dave Clawson Signing Day Quotes

"Signing Day has become a national holiday of sorts. It's the one day in college football that we all go undefeated. The true measure of this class is not necessarily on how many stars we have today or how many we sign today but where we are in two to three years with that class. I always thought the classes should be re-ranked in two or three years. Ultimately, the success of this class we will know in two or three years. How many are playing, how many are starting.

"We certainly feel that we got off to a good start. We certainly are proud of the class. The class represents a lot of hard work by a lot of different people. As there head coach I get to come up here and introduce them but I am only a small part of the whole process of getting these student athletes here. As a staff we had to hit the ground running. Recruiting is about relationships to some degree. We feel we are even playing catch-up with the '15 class. When you get hired 6 weeks before signing day recruiting is such a relationship oriented approach that obviously we did not have the relationships with a lot of these players that the other staffs had. I am really proud of our staff.

"There wasn't one day that a coach could be on the road that we weren't all on the road. At times it got delirious we woke up in hotel rooms and had no idea what city we were in. The work ethic allowed us to make up ground and sign a very strong class.

"To wrap it up, it was a team effort. We felt we made up a lot of ground in a short amount of time. We were looking for obviously good football players that would fit Wake Forest academically. This class sort of becomes the foundation of what we are building so character had to be paramount. We really wanted to recruit leaders, captains, high character guys that we feel will not just make a splash on signing day, but hopefully will be very productive members of the Wake Forest community for the next four and five years on and off the field.

"Our approach to the class was we basically wanted to sign a whole football team. We've not worked with our players here yet on the field. I did not want to take other people's opinions for what we had and what we didn't have. I've done that before. I once stepped into the job and someone told us we had recruited a great offensive line class the year before so we didn't sign any offensive linemen. After going through the spring we didn't think any of the offensive linemen they signed the year before could play. Now we were two years short so we did not want to make that mistake again. Some things you learn that the hard way. So we basically tried to recruit a whole football team. We wanted to sign a player at every position. In some cases we doubled up if depth was concern.

"Who is going to play early I have no idea. Who is going to red shirt I have no clue. We have no idea until we go through a spring and a camp with these guys. I am sure when it's all said and done some of them will play early, some will provide depth, and others will try to redshirt. If you look at the class positionally, it's basically a football team."

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Comments » 1

Clemorange writes:

Good to hear it, I'm glad somebody in the acc is trying to step up. Sounds like they have a pretty solid class coming in. That's a lot of high school captains.

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