ACC Recruiting Breakdowns: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest is somehow the most irrelevant and interesting ACC team at the same time. So many things about how Dave Clawson has built this program I love, but I also know they really have no shot at taking down Clemson or a good Florida State team in their own division. It's hard to sell that program to recruits. Not many fans, small school, not a lot of history, it's just a tough sell. However, a brand new football center gives the Demon Deacons a bit more traction in the talent rich state of North Carolina.

2020 Class:
ACC Rank: 11
National Rank: 60
# of Signees: 25
Average Recruit Rating: 0.8360
Top Recruit: Jasheen Davis, EDGE, Snellville GA, (0.8801)

Biggest Need: Skill position depth
The harsh reality with a majority of college programs is the drop off in talent from the starters to the second string can be brutal. Tech has even seen it's fair share of this issue over the past 2-3 seasons. Once your starters get injured or run out of gas it's hard to compete at the same level unless you're Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, etc. With Wake Forest's style of offense, the issue can be magnified.

Quick trivia: who ran the most plays per game in the FBS last season? That would be Wake Forest. In 2018? That would also be Wake Forest. In fact, if you take Wake Forest's average plays per game over the last two seasons and compare that to Tech (who over the two years is roughly the 50th percentile in plays per game), Wake Forest has ran 575 more plays than Virginia Tech over the same number of games. That equates to Tech playing over 8 extra football games at their current offensive tempo. So yeah, Wake Forest trainers have a busy job.

In this class, Wake Forest got two RB's in Ahmani Marshall (0.8510) and Quinton Cooley (0.8490). Cooley is an interesting one. He's listed at 5'8". He also ran for 3000 yards (that's 212.6 per game) and 54 touchdowns his senior season. Both of these were tops in the state of North Carolina and second nationally.

Wake Forest did a lot of work in the WR department this class, signing 6 WR's with 1 WR, Jackson Hensley (0.8200) as a commit yet to officially sign. The top of these signees is Jahmal Banks (0.8464) out of Baltimore. At 6'3", he poses as a real downfield threat. Wake Forest, which has become a tight end heavy offense over the past 5-6 years, also signed Michael Frogge (0.8328) our of Greensboro and Trey Boll (0.8464) out of Richmond. Both of those guys fit well into Wake Forest's system, where the tight ends are asked to do a lot more than in most spread offenses.

Most Exciting Recruit: Mitch Griffis, QB (DUAL), Ashburn VA, (0.8710)
Anytime your school signs a QB there's a glimmer of hope for his development. Griffis was a really solid player in NoVa but didn't get as much hype around his recruitment as he maybe deserved. Griffis was the 15th ranked player in the state and 22nd overall DUAL QB in the nation. He's by no means a Jamie Newman type DUAL QB, who at 6'4" 230 can run a read option and QB power as much as he needs to. Griffis is more like a Trace McSorley where he can scramble and make plays, but won't have that many designed runs at the college level. Griffis has offers from West Virginia, UNC, Maryland, Louisville, and App State. So, that's a pretty good recruiting win for the Demon Deacons.

Griffis is probably a year or two away from being a starter at Wake Forest. Sam Hartman, who has looked impressive in his time filling in for an injured Jamie Newman, is only a redshirt sophomore and will most likely lead the team for the next few years. Other than that, however, Wake has 3 other QB's on the roster, 2 redshirt freshman and then Griffis. Griffis and Michael Kern will be the guys jockeying for the backup spot. With the kind of offenses Dave Clawson can conjure up, Wake Forest has a QB battle to watch over the next couple seasons.

Early Contributor: Terrance Davis, OG, Temple Hills MD -> UMD (0.8700)
Davis was a solid player for the Terps, and even received some All-Big10 hype going into last season. However, injuries have plagued his career forcing Davis to miss the final 8 games of last season. He'll come into a very young Wake Forest OL group and could provide some much needed experience. Davis started 31 games in his UMD career, so he's been battle tested in one of the toughest divisions in all of college football. Davis may very well start at right guard in Norfolk against ODU in Week 1. (Wake Forest vs ODU on a prime-time Friday night to start the season may be a game to watch)

Transfer Portal:
As well as Davis, the Demon Deacons added Stanford grad transfer WR Donald Stewart and a kickoff specialist from Washington State, Jack Crane.

Sam's Grade: B
This class was pretty average for Wake Forest, which has to be considered a win. Clawson is never going to be able to make a big splash in recruiting, so getting the kind of guys he can develop into ACC caliber players is the goal each offseason. Wake Forest has also made a big effort to recruit the DMV area, a move that has begun to bear fruit. While this class may be lacking a headlining signee, it does add important depth to the WR and RB groups, as well as adds an exciting QB to challenge for playing time soon.

I also haven't talked about Wake Forest's highest rated signee, Jasheen Davis. A lot of recruiting experts were very high on Davis. According to 247, he's the 15th ranked EDGE player in the country. He could very well line up opposite of Roanoke native and All-ACC pass rusher Carlos Basham, Jr. That would give Wake Forest a pass rush that could scare any QB in the Atlantic division. Jasheen Davis could be Freshman All-ACC, and for a program that prides itself in development, that would be a very welcomed change of the status-quo.

ACC Grades:
Syracuse – C
Boston College – B
Pittsburgh – B+
Louisville – B-
Virginia – B-
Virginia Tech – C
Wake Forest – B

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


I hate to make a discussion about Wake about VT, but we saw issues with injury really hurt the team for most of the last 7-8 season. Those last 4 Beamer years had some crappy luck with injuries.

Yes, and Wake really felt that last season towards the end. They were a much better team than the bowl game against Michigan State than the score says.

This is why depth is so important. There are many years where I felt the VT starting 22 could go head to head with anyone. But the starting 22 never stays healthy for a whole season.

Twitter me

oh I know, I was just pointing out the last 4 years of Beamer had tons of injuries in years I thought we'd be division champs. And the 2010, 2011 terrible classes meant no depth.

Tech did a poor job of recruiting to positional needs from like 2014-16. It led to a lot of attrition and very young teams with little experience. It seems like the new staff Fuente has is doing a better job of roster management.

Um that roster mismanagement went further back, we went 3 years taking a single WR around 10 years ago.

very true, but doesn't have as much of a bearing on the current program as classes from 2016-2017 have.

The coaches and recruiting staff at Wake definitely earn their salaries. Also looks like they hit their needs with wanting to run up tempo on offense and picking up 6 WR and 2 RB. As long as the lineman can keep up it seems like they should be set.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

Wake executes an interesting (and dedicated) strategy that helps mitigate talent deficiencies by redshirting all incoming freshmen with rare exceptions.

Someone on this list may well start/contribute heavily next season but they are pretty consistent with this strategy. This usually creates a situation where they occasionally will line up a veteran and experienced starting group with elevated QB play (which they are also reliant on) and have a really solid season. This past year was almost one of those seasons with 10 wins very much on the table heading into November at 6-1. They beat NC State in early November before finishing the season losing four of their last five games as result of major injuries.

Will be interesting to see when their next "solid" season lines up. It could be as soon as next year since they actually [HAD] two quality P5 QB's on the roster (Newman and Hartman), the latter of which has actually played quite a bit because of various injuries so they might survive Newman's departure better than some expect.

However, all that to say Wake is a good example of a team that has a capped ceiling as a P5 program. Respectable, but certainly not a place I hope to see Virginia Tech in the future.

edit: a word

edit: ty for clarifying

"Why gobble gobble chumps asks such good questions, I will never know." - TheFifthFuller

Hartman can ball. He played pretty well for a true freshman in 2018. Clawson has done a great job with QB play since he's gotten there.

They're very reliant on development, which is why a class average of 0.8360 isn't too worrying. I think they are a fascinating team to watch every off season because they could either be 9-3 or 5-7 any season.