We all know by now that Wake Forest is a unique school for football purposes and adheres to the longstanding policy of red-shirting the majority of its true freshmen in hopes that they will be as mature physically and mentally in their fifth year than they would be their freshman year. This system implemented by Jim Grobe and his staff has worked wonders in the past, and the Deacs have taken what should be a disadvantage recruiting-wise and turned it in to an advantage by appealing to guys that want to have five years academically and athletically at a top 25 institution.
One of the downsides to this, however, is that there is a long time from National Signing Day to the first game of the red-shirt freshman season. Instead of 6 months, it is usually 18 months. That provides a lot of time for players to realize that they don't fit into the system or for the team to do the same. From a fans perspective, it kind of makes us forget about who is actually supposed to contribute right away and who more of the long term projects are.
Fortunately this article is designed to look at the guys that are (or in some cases would have been) red-shirt freshman this year. There have been some departures that we will look at, and also highlight those expected to breakout and help the Deacs out from "Day One".
Click through the jump for a full list of the 2011 NSD list, as well as a look at who will help out this year
2011 NSD Signees (from WakeForestSports.com)
||Lake Worth, Fla.
||Sherman Ragland III
||High Point, N.C.
||Powder Springs, Ga.
||San Antonio, Texas
||Coral Springs, Fla.
||Wake Forest, N.C.
||Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Along with the list above, the following players are listed as RS Fr on WakeForestSports.com and were not walk-ons: Chad Hedlund, Alex Kinal, Jordan Pineda.
First of all, let's take a look back at the 2011 NSD thread we had on BloggerSoDear. It's kind of cool to look back at our thoughts at that time on the players for the future and how we view them now. A couple of things from that thread stick out to me:
- It appears that Josh Grady, the QB/ATH that committed to Vanderbilt over Wake Forest, has been switched to a WR and will play at least somewhat of a role for the Commodores this year. He will be interesting to see when they visit Winston-Salem next year.
- Josh Hunt and Andre Wiggins are no longer listed on the Wake Forest roster, which is a shame because they were the only OLB's we signed in that class.
- There were a lot of switches both ways in that class. Ramsey (Maryland to Wake), Willis (GT to Wake), Harrell (Wake to GT -- perhaps a trade with Willis?), Sousa (Michigan to Wake), Harlos (Wake to Colorado), Hunt (Wake to North Texas to Wake). Hopefully the Deacs will come out on top with these switches. Time will tell.
Now for the guys that we still have (everybody but Hunt and Wiggins), we are beginning to get a better idea of who is going to be able to help us out this year at least in some way. i'm going to break everybody down into three categories.
Day One Contributors- This group should figure into our plans immediately and will see a lot of snaps from the first game on.
Season One Contributors- These guys may not see a lot of snaps at first but should work their way into the mix of things as the season goes on, setting themselves up well for next season.
Long-term Contributors- This group is full of what I believe to be role guys that may take time to develop, but given that time they will become contributors in a couple of seasons.
This is not meant to downgrade or make anybody look bad, but realistically there are positions that we need more help with now and positions that we are set with upperclassmen for now. Just because somebody is in the final group does not mean they are any less talented than the first two groups, just that there may not be that PT there for them right now, or they need to work on some things before they are able to contribute for us.
Sherman Ragland III (SRIII)
- Realistically, the only guy on this list that we know for sure will be a contributor from day one. His athleticism and skill will likely help out the team immediately and take a lot of the pressure off of Camp.
Cody Preble, Dylan Intemann, Hunter Goodwin-
These three guys are currently on or battling for a spot on the second team offensive line and if anybody else should go down from the first team these guys would be thrown in there right away. Arguably could be in the Day One group, especially if something else goes wrong (knock on wood).
Proven to be a beast at defensive end and I have heard guys raving about him since the spring. I am guessing our two starting defensive ends to be Zach Thompson
and then maybe Johnny Garcia
? If that's the case then I could see Floyd being the third most talented defensive end on the team. He could surprise and move up into that Day One group as well.
Possibly Day One since Alex Wulfeck
injured himself punting during the first practice. Kinal boomed it for 50 yards a punt in the spring game, and if he can become more consistent would be our starting punter for sure. He is currently the starter due to the injury, I suppose.
- Arguably one of the more talented players in this class. I've seen him do a lot of great things and he would be in the second group if he weren't at an absolutely loaded position at the corner.
- A very talented athlete, I've yet to see whether or not he will be the QB of the future. I have some concerns about him and I think he will wind up behind Cross and potentially even Thompson at QB this year.
- Another one of those guys that has a lot of talent and will see some snaps but because of the position that he plays probably won't be a huge factor this year. Has big play threat written all over him and it wouldn't surprise me to see him do some good things this year.
- This was one of my harder choices. Chubb showed that he can play with these guys right now during the spring and it wouldn't surprise me to see him get a fair amount of snaps behind Haynes, Betros, Jackson and Olson, but there is a lot of talent in front of him.
DeAndre Martin- I wanted to put him in the Season One group because he brings power to the table that JRoc (sometimes he brings power) and Orville don't really bring. I'm not sure Coach Grobe will go three-deep too much though. Martin may get some carries early to see how he handles the rock, but I expect JRoc and Orville to get the lion's share of the carries with T-Bo getting any short yardage stuff.
Godspower Offor- I amreally high on Offor and I think he will contribute in the future but I don't believe he is as far along as Floyd is right now at the defensive end position. Will see some snaps I bet and could surprise.
Chad Hedlund- Backup place kicker right now (former TCU commit) behind Jimmy Newman. This was one of the spots that Coach Grobe said was up for grabs going into practice this week. I expect Jimmy will hold on to his job though. Hedlund is certainly waiting in the wings should Newman slip up though.
- Somewhat of the forgotten recruit from this class. I believe he was the guy that Coach Grobe talked a bit about last year around this time and burning his RS. The OLB positions are somewhat there for the taking though. Zach "Ziggy" Allen and Joey Ehrmann
are the two candidates, but true freshman Kevis Jones and Pineda might factor in as well.
In addition to these guys, there are also a few true freshman that could potentially see playing time. Based on what I've heard/read/seen I would list these guys as prime candidates: Ty Hayworth (O-line), Joel Suggs (O-line), Zach Gordon (TE), Shelldon Lewinson (NG), and perhaps Kevis Jones (OLB) could see some time this year.
It's exciting to look at these guys and see the foundations for the future being laid. It seems like we are setting up pretty well for the next couple of years and our talent is playing earlier and earlier (which is the stated goal from Jim Grobe--"if they are ready then they will play"). Hopefully we will avoid the injuries and be able to red-shirt most of our true freshmen, but the red-shirt freshmen primarily provide a lot of depth and will be ready to challenge/step in to starting roles next year around this time.
I hope this was informative and helped rekindle the thoughts on these guys since it has been a while. If I inadvertently left something out or you disagree with a category I've put a guy in then let me know about it and we can discuss it!